The testing of dead birds for West Nile Virus began June 1, and officials with the Sarpy/Cass Health Department are urging residents in the two-county area to report any such findings.

Jenny Steventon, assistant health director and environmental health specialist, said the department is collecting only corvids such as blue jays, crows and magpies this year.

She said persons should contact the department if they find a bird that has been dead less than 24 hours, shows no visible sign of injury and has not yet begun to decompose.

The department may be contacted at 402-339-4334.

A news release from the department said Nebraska contains at least 50 species of mosquitoes, although only a small number are known to transmit disease.

Steventon offered tips for protecting from mosquito bites:

• Wear appropriate attire such as shoes, socks, long-sleeved shirts and pants while outdoors during dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.

• Wear an EPA-approved insect repellent, and remove standing water where mosquitoes breed. Mosquitoes can lay eggs in water that has been left stagnant for as little as four days.

• Frequently change water in birdbaths and empty cans, planters, clogged gutters, and other containers that can hold water.

The department is offering free insect repellent wipes to residents of Sarpy and Cass counties. Limited quantities are available at the health department’s Papillion office at 701 Olson Drive, Suite 101.

Mosquitoes cause diseases in millions of people around the world each year. The Sarpy/Cass Health Department’s mosquito surveillance program involves larval monitoring, adult mosquito trapping and dead bird collection.

According to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, there were 242 human cases of West Nile Virus and 46 blood donor cases in Nebraska in 2018. One bird and two horses also tested positive for the virus.

For more information about West Nile Virus, visit sarpycasshealthdepartment.org.

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