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Dead crow in Kirkland tests positive for West Nile virus

King County officials announced on Tuesday that a dead crow found in Kirkland on Sept. 15 tested positive for West Nile Virus.

This is the first bird to test positive for the virus in King County in 2008, officials said in a press release. They warned that residents could still potentially become infected this year.

“While the days are growing cooler and there may be fewer mosquitoes around, this West Nile-positive bird is a reminder that it’s still important to protect yourself against mosquito bites,” said Dr. David Fleming, director and health officer for Public Health - Seattle & King County. “The risk of contracting West Nile virus is not yet over for this season.”

Testing of dead birds will end in late October, but King County residents are asked to report dead birds year-round by calling Public Health at (206) 205-4394 or by reporting them online at www.metrokc.gov/health/westnile/deadbird.htm.

In 2008, more than 700 people nationwide have come down with symptoms of West Nile virus, and 11 people have died. Washington state has had multiple birds, mosquitoes and horses test positive for West Nile. Two Washington residents, one of whom lives in King County, are being considered “probable” for West Nile virus, pending further testing. Officials believe all three individuals contracted West Nile virus outside of King County.

West Nile can cause serious illness, particularly in older adults. The virus is primarily a bird disease, and crows are especially susceptible. Mosquitoes become infected by feeding on an infected bird and can pass the virus to humans, horses or other animals when they bite. West Nile virus is not spread by person-to-person contact, nor is it transmitted directly from birds or other animals to people.

Public Health officials recommend getting rid of any standing water on your property, repairing window screens and wearing protective clothing or insect repellent when out of doors.

Most people who become infected with West Nile virus do not experience any symptoms and are not ill. About 20 percent of people infected will develop symptoms including fever, headache, body aches and occasionally swollen lymph glands or a rash, and can be ill for several weeks. In fewer than 1 in 150 cases, West Nile virus may cause encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain.

• Public Health – Seattle & King County West Nile hotline: (206) 205-3883

• To report a dead crow: (206) 205-4394 (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.)

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