West Nile Virus Found in Local Bird; No Human Cases in County So Far

Article excerpt

Byline: Tim Christie The Register-Guard

West Nile virus is back in Lane County, detected in a dead crow that was found in Springfield, Lane County Public Health officials said Wednesday.

While Lane County has yet to see its first human case of the disease since it was found in the United States seven years ago, Oregon is experiencing a dramatic upsurge this year.

As of Wednesday, state health officials have confirmed 60 human cases of West Nile virus this year, said Dr. Emilio DeBess, state public health veterinarian. That's a 650 percent increase from the eight human cases reported last year.

Most of the human cases have occurred in Eastern Oregon, led by Malheur County with 48 cases. Malheur County borders Idaho, which has had 817 human cases of West Nile virus this year - the most of any state, by far. Fifteen Idahoans have died from West Nile complications this year.

DeBess said the disease is likely to continue its inexorable western migration, if not this year, then next.

Lane County has had just a handful of bird cases. Two birds tested positive for the virus in 2004, and one tested positive last year. No horses or humans have tested positive here.

The crow found in a residential yard in the Gateway area of Springfield was the first of 16 birds checked this year in Lane County to test positive for the virus, said Tamara Wilhite, West Nile virus coordinator for Lane County Public Health. "It means West Nile virus is in the area, and there are mosquitos infected with it," Wilhite said. …