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April 14, 2014

DHEC seeks public's help tracking West Nile Virus

COLUMBIA, S.C. - The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control is seeking the public's help in collecting dead birds to test for this season's arrival of West Nile virus.

"Anyone can help us track West Nile virus by submitting dead blue jays, crows, house sparrows, and house finches for testing," said Chris Evans, a Ph.D. entomologist with the DHEC Bureau of Laboratories.

"We are accepting submissions of birds and will continue to do so through Nov. 30," Evans said. "We ask that, first, you review the submission directions and photos of birds that are found on our website at By following those instructions, you can safely pick up and transport a bird to the closest DHEC county public health department for testing."

According to Evans, the public's involvement with dead bird surveillance covers a wider area and helps to identify the virus before it shows up in people. Birds that test positive for West Nile virus are reported to local mosquito control agencies so they can take appropriate action to protect public health. Mosquitoes feed on the blood of birds carrying West Nile virus and can subsequently spread the disease to humans. Public health officials recommend the following tips to make areas safer and reduce the numbers of mosquitoes that might spread the virus:

  • Remove buckets, cups, bottles, flowerpots, plastic bags, tires or any water-holding containers.
  • Do not allow water to stagnate in low-lying areas of the yard, in boats or on tarps that cover yard items.
  • Keep birdbaths and pet bowls clean by scrubbing them and flushing with fresh water at least once a week.
  • Clean fallen leaves and other debris out of roof gutters and spouting.
  • Make sure outdoor trash cans have tight-fitting lids. If lids are not available, drill holes in the bottom of the can to allow water to drain.

Additional information on mosquito-borne diseases can be found at For updated information about recommended mosquito repellants, visit the CDC website at:


Note to reporters and editors: A complete list of DHEC's county drop-off locations for West Nile testing is available by clicking on the South Carolina map shown on the agency's website,

For media inquiries:
Jim Beasley - (803) 898-7769
Email -