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SC Health Agency Wants People To Bring In Dead Birds

Dead finches along with crows, blue jays and house sparrows are birds the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control wants to test for West Nile virus.

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina's health agency wants residents to bring them the bodies of certain species of dead birds so they can be tested for West Nile Virus.

Testing the birds gives scientists an idea if West Nile Virus is becoming more prevalent and if there are any hot spots in the state, the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control said in a statement.

The virus is spread from birds to humans through mosquitos. Only about one in five people infected with the virus has symptoms, which include fever, headache, joint pain and muscle pain, health officials said.

The agency especially wants to test dead crows, blue jays, house finches and house sparrows if they have not started to decay.

The birds should be put into a bag using gloves, kept cool or dry and in ice, and taken to a local DHEC office as soon as possible. The agency has a form on its website anyone bringing a dead bird should fill out, officials said.

The amount of West Nile Virus found in South Carolina varies each year. In 2018, 87 birds from 18 counties tested positive. Last year, just one bird in all of South Carolina tested positive for the virus.