West Nile Virus found in Roseway neighborhood

While it isn’t the dreaded “avian flu”‚ the infiltration of this virus into an East Portland neighborhood has caused concern. Learn why, here‚

Senator Avel Gordly, host of the West Nile Virus educational forum, says she hopes all residents of Multnomah County will take the steps necessary to reduce risk of this bird-borne illness.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
With all the publicity about the deadly “avian flu” coming to America, it’s not surprising that neighbors near NE 63rd Ave. and Sandy Blvd. were concerned about a dead bird that was found there on June 25.

The dead crow tested positive for West Nile Virus.

“This is the first time we’ve seen West Nile Virus (WNV) in Multnomah County this year,” stated Chris Wirth, Manager of Multnomah County’s Vector and Nuisance Control at an educational forum held on July 28, hosted by State Senator Avel Gordly.

This map shows where the dead, infected crow was found on June 25.

Joining Wirth and Gordly was Kari Lyons, Multnomah County Environmental Health Educator and Dave Houghton, Multnomah County Community Health Services Program Manager.

We learned that, in Multnomah County, the first case of WNV was found in 2006 in a bird in southeast Portland. Three additional cases were discovered last year, two in northeast Portland and one in Gresham.

Kills birds, not people
West Nile Virus, we learned, is primarily a bird infection.

Humans can contract WNV if a mosquito feeds on an infected bird, then bites a human. “Birds cannot transmit the disease to humans, nor can it be transmitted through person-to-person contact,” said Wirth.

Information presented at the forum indicated that most people infected with WNV won’t have symptoms. Less than one percent of infected individuals will develop serious illnesses, such as meningitis or encephalitis. The infection is more serious for people over the age of 50, and perhaps also for people with suppressed immune systems.

Kari Lyons, Multnomah County Environmental Health Educator, State Senator Avel Gordly, Dave Houghton, Multnomah County Community Health Services Program Manager and Chris Wirth, Multnomah County Vector Control speak present a West Nile Virus educational forum.

Asks citizens for help
Dave Houghton said the county health department was working to reduce WNV, but needs the help of individuals.

According to Wirth, mosquitoes can breed in any standing water that lasts more than four days. Even a small bucket of standing water can become home to up to 1,000 mosquitoes.

“We’re working to keep mosquito populations down, reducing the likelihood they’ll be flying into our neighborhoods, back yards and parks,” Houghton said. “But we need your help, and that of all people in the county.”

Wirth listed what individuals can do to reduce the risk of WNV, and provided this list of prevention steps:

  • Eliminate all sources of standing water that can support mosquito breeding.
  • Make sure gutters drain well, change birdbath water at least weekly, and get rid of old tires or buckets in your yard;
  • Avoid playing or working outside at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active;
  • Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and other protective clothing when you are outdoors;
  • Wear insect repellent, preferably one that contains DEET. Follow label directions when using any repellent, especially for children;
  • Make sure that doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or holes.

Dead crow watch
Health officials are testing crows, jays, and magpies that have been dead for less than 24 hours. “If people find a dead bird and are concerned about what to do with it, they should call Multnomah County’s Health Department Vector and Nuisance Control at (503) 988-NILE,” Wirth instructed.

You can find additional information about West Nile virus in the internet by clicking HERE, or call the statewide toll-free information line at 1-866-703-4636.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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