July 20, 2004
HONOLULU - The Hawaii State Department of Health (DOH) is enlisting
a new partner in the fight to keep Hawaii free of West Nile Virus
(WNV). Aloha United Way 211 will now be a 24/7 resource for Hawaii
residents seeking information about WNV or information about how to
collect or where to drop-off dead birds that could indicate WNV has
On the mainland, collecting and testing dead birds has served as an
early warning system, to alert authorities that WNV is present in the
area. To date there has been no evidence of WNV in Hawaii. Numerous
state, county and non-profit agencies are working hard to detect the
virus should it enter the state. The new Aloha United Way 211 service
allows the public to help in this effort.
Since WNV is a disease that usually circulates between birds and
mosquitoes, prevention efforts are focusing on the elimination of
standing water where mosquitoes can breed. Mosquitoes become infected
after biting sick birds. If the mosquito then bites a human it can then
transmit the disease to that person.
WNV is not contagious and cannot be passed from person to person or
from birds to humans. However, when handling a dead bird use gloves, a
plastic bag, or shovel to prevent direct contact, and avoid touching
the sharp claws and beak.
West Nile virus is part of the family of viruses known as
flavivirus. The disease is usually passed between mosquitoes and birds,
but can also infect humans, horses, and other vertebrates.
In humans, the disease creates flu-like symptoms in about 20% of
people infected, and less than 1% of infected will have a severe and
sometimes fatal illness. Since it was first detected in the United
States in 1999, WNV has spread to most states. Last year, in the United
States, there were 9682 human cases of WNV; 264 of these died.
Anyone finding a freshly dead bird should place the bird in a
plastic bag and deliver it to the nearest designated collection site.
For a list of sites, and further instructions, visit
www.hawaii.gov/health or call 211.
For More Information Contact:
Laura M. Lott
Department of Health
Phone: (808) 586-4418
Department of Health
West Nile Virus Coordinator