- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 20, 2003

Three more dead crows in Manassas and Prince William County have tested positive for West Nile virus, bringing the total to eight this year in the Prince William Health District.

“Though the presence of the virus has been confirmed in the health district, I emphasize that the risk of contracting West Nile fever is very small,” said Dr. Jared E. Florance, director of the Prince William County Department of Health.

Virginia health officials have tested 2,185 of 2,254 dead birds they collected that commonly transfer the disease to and from mosquitoes, which bite humans. So far, tests have been conducted on 399 dead birds from Fairfax County, 80 from Arlington County and 15 from Alexandria.

The three dead crows were found on Evergreen Drive in Dale City, Turner Road in Broad Run and Prince William Street in Manassas.

Crows are the most frequent carriers. Jays and raptors are among the more than 130 species of birds known to have been infected.

The first infection in Maryland was found last week in a mosquito-laden pool in northern Anne Arundel County. No human is known to be infected so far this year.

“We will be looking for any people or horses that may be infected,” said J. B. Hanson, spokesman for the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

District officials are again looking at the possibility of collecting discarded tires from neighborhoods. Water collecting for more than four days in the tires can be breeding pools for West Nile-infected mosquitoes.

Officials said the especially rainy spring is a concern.

Last year, 31 persons in the District were diagnosed with West Nile and two persons died. In Virginia, 29 persons were diagnosed.

Humans can be infected by West Nile and not know it. The first symptoms, occurring three days to two weeks after being bitten, include body aches, headaches, skin rash and fever.

People older than 50 are most likely to suffer from coma, convulsions, disorientation, high fever, tremors, weakness and occasionally paralysis, coma or death.

Last year in Maryland, 36 persons and 30 horses contracted West Nile. Seven humans and 13 horses died.

Until 1999, West Nile was confined to Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

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