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    Starting April 17, 2006, the Public Health and Environmental Laboratory (PHEL) and Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Division of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) will accept birds for West Nile Virus (WNV) testing.

    DHSS will continue to test all corvid species for the presence of WNV activity in a genral geographic because of their susceptibility to the virus. The most popular corvids in New Jersey are the crows and blue jays. Additional information on corvid species can be found at the following websites –

    Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) requests the participation of local health officers, animal control officers, local police, and wildlife management professionals in the accurate reporting of bird morbidity and mortality incidents in New Jersey for the 2006 season.

    The following guidelines have been prepared to accurately monitor and report avian morbidity and mortality statewide.

    Local Health Departments (LHDs) will be the lead agency in the coordination of the DEAD-ILL BIRD REPORT/LAB SUBMISSION form entering the information directly into the system or by faxing the form upon completion to DHSS Infectious and Zoonotic Diseases Program at 609-588-2546.

    This year, with all 21 counties will enter their data directly into the West Nile Virus surveillance system. The counties tied directly to the system will not need to fax the DEAD-ILL BIRD REPORT/LAB SUBMISSION form to DHSS. The data collected will be entered electronically. Counties entering their data can get refresher training to operate the WNV surveillance system.

    II. BIRD MORBIDITY and MORTALITY - Submission and Reporting

    DEAD-ILL BIRD REPORT/LAB SUBMISSION form: LHDs should receive reports of dead or ill birds from residents, animal control officers, and local police. Please advise all residents and department personnel to use gloves while handling the dead corvids for WNV testing. LHDs are responsible for informing animal control officers and local police of the proper submission and reporting protocol. The DEAD-ILL BIRD REPORT/LAB SUBMISSION form must be completed in its entirety and entered into the system or faxed to DHSS at 609-588-2546. LHDs should ensure that the specific address of the dead or ill bird and county are included. Addresses are critical when mapping the exact location of positive birds. As the season progresses, dead bird sightings usually reflect WNV activity, which is especially important if you are over the 5+ bird limit and can no longer submit birds for testing.

    LHDs should also fax the DEAD-ILL BIRD REPORT/LAB SUBMISSION form to their respective mosquito agencies to facilitate efficient mosquito surveillance. At the peak of the WNV season, information on dead bird sightings becomes paramount for mosquito surveillance purposes, as the avian positivity rate approaches 95 percent.

    If residents have questions regarding avian influenza and handling dead birds, please refer them to the guidelines posted on the state health website, especially the document Public Reports of Bird Mortality: Guidance for Health Officers.

    SUBMISSION: Specimens must be submitted to PHEL within 4-5 days of collection, preferably less. All specimens should be kept refrigerated and shipped to the lab on cold packs. LHDs should ensure that specimens arrive on or before Friday, as the lab is closed on Saturday.

    DO NOT FREEZE BIRDS. Birds showing signs of decay, decomposition, or infestation with maggots should NOT be submitted for testing.

    Laboratory personnel have requested that birds be submitted as follows:

    1. Place each bird into a separate one-gallon, clear, plastic bag with “Easy Close Slider/Zipper.”

    2. Place the completed DEAD-ILL BIRD REPORT/LAB SUBMISSION form into a separate clear, plastic zip lock bag.

    3. Write the USI number with a black water-proof marker clearly on the bag containing the bird.

    4. Firmly secure the two (2) bags together with staples.

    Do not submit samples in large green garbage bags. Samples that are not submitted according to this protocol or without proper paperwork will NOT be tested.

    Copies of all forms should be kept by the LHD for record keeping purposes.

    III. REPORTING OF RESULTS: Results will be shared via our LINCS system on a weekly basis. If you do not receive weekly results via LINCS, contact your county LINCS coordinator. However, all counties can access their results in real time through the WNV System.

    Satisfactory and unsatisfactory avian lists will be sent weekly via LINCS coordinators. LHDs should contact their LINCS coordinators to make sure they receive these lists. LHDs should regularly check lists to ensure there are no missing addresses. Specific addresses are needed for GIS mapping of positive birds.

    IV. COMMUNICATION: Memos, weekly summaries, or changes in submission protocol will be sent from DHSS via LINCS. If you do not have a computer, please contact your LINCS coordinator so he/she can fax memos, weekly summaries, or changes in submission protocol notices to you.


    LHDs are responsible for calling their respective mosquito agencies to report positive bird results.

    Many thanks to all of you for your participation and extra effort during the 2005 WNV season.

    Please contact us if you have questions or concerns: 609-588-3121



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