July 14, 2006
Dead Crows Should be Reported to Oswego County Health Department
What should you do if you find a dead bird?
Many people are asking that question, said Kathleen Smith, Public Health Director of the Oswego County Health Department, because of concern about a severe form of bird flu that has not yet been found in the United States.
Smith said that, since bird flu has not appeared in the U.S., people don’t need to report finding single dead birds unless they are crows. Dead crows should be reported because they help health officials track West Nile virus.
If you find a dead crow, call the county Health Department directly at 349-3564. Other types of birds do not need to be reported unless there are many dead birds in the same area.
“Contact the regional Department of Environmental Conservation office at 1-800-388-8244 if you see a lot of dead birds in the same place,” said Smith. “The DEC will decide if testing needs to be done. Bird flu usually involves migratory waterfowl, such as wild ducks, swans and geese, not backyard birds. The vast majority of backyard birds – robins, sparrows, pigeons, cardinals, etc. – will not need to be tested.”
Smith said many other diseases, besides bird flu, can cause wild birds to become sick.
“Since a person probably won’t be able to diagnose what killed a bird by looking at it, follow common sense precautions,” she said.
To dispose of a dead bird, use a shovel and wear gloves to double-bag the bird. Throw it out in the trash, or bury it at least three feet deep, away from a stream or other water source. Thoroughly wash your hands and your tools.
“Finding a sick or dead bird can be unsettling, but it’s important to remember that bird flu has not been found in the United States,” said Smith. “We know from what has happened elsewhere in the world that bird flu does not easily infect humans. Bird flu can only make people sick if they have had very close contact with infected birds.”
Contact the Oswego County Health Department at 349-3564 or visit the New York State Department of Health Web site at www.nyhealth.gov to learn more.
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