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Published July 23, 2013, 05:51 PM

Public Health ceases West Nile testing of birds, strengthens mosquito control efforts

The Grand Forks Public Health Department has decided to stop testing birds for the West Nile Virus as officials say they know the virus is here, and they will focus their resources elsewhere in fighting the disease and keeping people safe.

By: Victor Correa, WDAZ

The Grand Forks Public Health Department has decided to stop testing birds for the West Nile Virus as officials say they know the virus is here, and they will focus their resources elsewhere in fighting the disease and keeping people safe.

Human cases of West Nile are popping up in South Dakota and Minnesota and it's likely to happen here as well.

There are seven human cases of West Nile in South Dakota. That's according to Mosquito Control Supervisor Todd Hanson. He says in the past when cases have sprung up in the south, it's a good indication it'll start happening up here.

Out of 6 birds tested, two came back positive for the virus. Hanson tells us now that they know West Nile is here, Public Health is focusing their resources on ridding the city of standing water, where mosquitoes hatch. They're also spraying more often to limit the population of existing mosquitoes.

With human cases in South Dakota and Minnesota, Hanson says people should take extra precaution, especially in August, when there's typically the highest number of reported cases.

Hanson: "I see a correlation with the hot dry temperatures and the increase in West Nile Virus activity and i suspect there's a correlation there why we start seeing more of the human cases at that time."

Hanson urges those who find dead birds to treat them as if they have the virus and throw them away. He says that while birds are unable to transmit the virus, it is prudent to not use one's bare hands to dispose of the birds.

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