All county health units statewide are now accepting dead hawks and owls for West Nile virus testing. This is in addition to the blue jays and crows that have been accepted in previous survey years.
All dead birds that do not appear to have died as a result of a collision with a vehicle should be sent to the local county health unit for West Nile virus testing. The contact for the West Nile Testing Program with the Arkansas Department of Health Office of Epidemiology is Pat Harris 501-661-2580.
Those people who do find a bird and would like to have it tested should take the following steps when they want to submit a dead blue jay, crow, hawk or owl to the Health Department for testing:
* Avoid submitting decomposed birds for testing. A bird cannot be tested if it is decomposed, chewed up, or has ants or maggots on the carcass.
* Avoid bare-hand contact when handling dead birds.
* Use rubber gloves when handling a dead bird. If you do not have gloves, insert your hand into a plastic bag, grasp the bird carefully and invert the bag over the bird. The bag should be tied and then placed inside a second tied bag. Double-bagging prevents cross-contamination of individual birds and leaking containers that may contaminate vehicles and handlers during transportation.
* If you cannot drop off the bird right away, then keep it cool in an ice chest until such time that it can be delivered to the local health unit.