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Health officials stop testing in 29 counties



Published: Wed, September 18, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Officials want people to report about finding dead birds.

HARRISBURG -- Lawrence and Mercer counties are among 29 counties where Pennsylvania health officials will stop testing dead birds for the West Nile virus.

"Dead birds have been an excellent indicator of West Nile virus activity in Pennsylvania, but after the virus has been detected in several birds in a county and we know the virus is present, the value of testing them diminishes," said Health Secretary Robert S. Zimmerman Jr.

In Lawrence County, nine birds, one horse and two mosquito pools have tested positive for West Nile, and in Mercer, there were 13 birds and one mosquito pool with the disease.

Though no more testing is planned, health officials said they want reports of dead birds to help determine where mosquito surveillance and abatement will be done.

Zimmerman noted that the Commonwealth was stopping dead bird pickup in many counties to preserve resources for human testing and for testing in areas where the virus has not been as prevalent.

He said that telephone reports of dead bird sightings will be sufficient to allow the state to continue to evaluate the need for mosquito control in those areas where West Nile virus has been identified.

He said they will later resume testing if needed, but it likely won't start again until the spring.

Testing has also been suspended in Butler and Beaver counties.

Anyone finding a dead bird in Lawrence or Mercer counties should call (877) 724-3258.




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