Bladen County Health Director Myra Johnson stated Monday that three dead birds found at various locations north of the Cape Fear River had tested positive for the disease. They included a crow found in the Gum Springs Road area, a cardinal found in the Barnes Loop area, and a blue jay found near Bay Tree Lakes.
Johnson said she is concerned that the disease could be spread to the human population in the area because of the number of confirmed cases that have been found in the bird population, and advises that area residents should be diligent in protecting themselves against mosquito bites.
"Although the risk of contracting serious illness from a mosquito bite is not great, these results clearly show that the virus is present here in Bladen County," she said. "You should apply a mosquito repellent containing DEET, wear light-colored long pants and long-sleeved shirts, and avoid being outside at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are at their worst."
The detection of West Nile virus in the area aviary population in Bladen follows an apparent outbreak of Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis (EEE) in the area equine population. A number of cases of the disease have been confirmed in the equine population around the area, including one in Bladen County.
Veterinary officials have indicated that the number of animals that have died as a result of the disease is likely larger than the number of confirmed cases, because some animal owners choose not to call in a veterinarian if the animal has already died before it is found.
The State Veterinarian has issued a number of releases urging area equine owners to have their animals vaccinated against the disease.