Text Size:   A+ A- A   •   Text Only
Site Image

DHS news release

July 28, 2005


Contact: Bonnie Widerburg (503) 731-4180

Technical contact: Emilio DeBess, DHS (503) 731-4024


West Nile bird detected in Jackson County



A dead crow found in the city of Medford has tested positive for West Nile virus, public health officials in Jackson County and Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) reported today.


The Jackson County Vector Control District sent the bird to Oregon State University's Veterinarian Diagnostic Laboratory for testing and confirmation was received this morning.


It is the first sign of West Nile virus (WNV) in Oregon this year, said Emilio DeBess, D.V.M., DHS public health veterinarian.


"This is the first indication that West Nile is present in the Medford area," said DeBess. "Oregonians need to get in the habit of protecting themselves from mosquito bites, because West Nile virus is here to stay."


He advised five key prevention steps:

  • Screen doors and windows should fit tightly. Repair or replace screens that have tears or holes.
  • Wear long pants, long-sleeve shirts and other protective clothing when outside.
  • Eliminate all sources of standing water that can support mosquito breeding such as clogged gutters, birdbaths and old tires.
  • Avoid playing or working outside at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Repellant use, preferably one that contains DEET, Picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus, is advised. Follow label directions carefully. Never apply DEET directly to children or put it on children's hands. Apply repellant first to your own hands and then onto the child. Do not use oil of lemon eucalyptus on children under age three.


West Nile virus was first reported in Oregon last year. DeBess said that most states have had a significantly larger number of cases in the second year, as the virus spreads to susceptible birds throughout the state.


In 2004, Oregon recorded West Nile virus infections in five people, 23 birds and 32 horses.


DHS has an active surveillance program underway to test birds, chickens and mosquitoes for WNV. In addition, physicians and other health providers are encouraged to test patients who have neurologic symptoms compatible with West Nile, according to DeBess.


DHS has set up a toll-free West Nile virus hotline for people to call for recorded information in English and Spanish at (866) 703-4636 (statewide).