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Birds test positive for West Nile

NORCROSS - Gwinnett Board of Health officials have announced that two dead birds found in Norcross have tested positive for the mosquito-borne West Nile virus.

The state's Medical Entomology Office notified the county's Board of Health Wednesday of the two deceased blue jays found at a sentinel site near the intersection of Beaver Ruin Road and Buford Highway.

The birds were discovered Aug. 7 and sent to the University of Georgia for testing, according to a Health Department press release.

Gwinnett Board of Health spokesman Vernon Goins said the Environmental Health Section of the Gwinnett County Board of Health will make an application of larvicide in the area where the birds were collected. He said the insecticide will hopefully kill the mosquitoes that may be carrying the virus and infecting the birds before the insects reach the adult stage.

Goins said Environmental Health will continue to trap mosquitoes - the best indicator of the presence of the virus - for testing. He said dead birds will also be collected for inspection and testing at the University of Georgia.

"The virus is better detected in mosquitoes, because mosquitoes travel maybe 100 yards from where they hatch, birds travel several miles and could come in from all over," Goins said.

Although Gwinnett saw its first human case of West Nile less than a month ago and the Health Department announced last week a virus-positive pool of trapped mosquitoes was found in Briscoe Park, Goins said mosquito season has not yet peaked.

"There has been an upsurge of the virus across the entire country and the season has just started," Goins said.

The peak time for the insects is usually near the end of August and Goins said the season doesn't die down until mid October when the insects begin to hibernate.

"We want to continue to alert the community about the ways to avoid the virus and prevent being bitten," Goins said.