COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is looking for dead birds. You read that right. DHEC is looking to do more testing on dead birds for mosquito-borne illnesses. The state agency is asking citizens to do their part in the research by sending in any dead birds they find.
News 19 spoke asked Columbia residents if they would participate in the program.
“Only if I have to," Jessica Majkowski said. "It’s helpful cause I think someone would do that, yeah, and I wouldn’t know they wanted people to that unless they asked."
Avery Arrington, a business owner, said he doesn't see the point in the department testing birds.
"Why birds? Birds die all the time," Arrington said. "Cause you can send one in for no reason at all with the heat these days water or whatever."
“Definitely, if it’s on my property," Clayton Vaughn said. "I would be more inclined to move the bird if its on my property, for sure. If it were here on Main Street, I’m not too sure I’d go out my way to move it."
DHEC said if you find a dead bird, pick it up with protective equipment like gloves or a doubled plastic bag. Seal the bird in a double bag, and take it to your local health department. There's also an optional form to fill out when you find a bird as well. That form can be found here.
After the bird is left at the health department, it's sent to DHEC for testing.
Dr. Chris Evans with the agency this will help assess the concentration of infections in the state "so that we can track mosquito control programs, to perform mosquito control in that area in order to protect public health in that area and prevent people form getting sick."
So far DHEC has received 45 birds, 16 from Richland County. For West Nile virus, 7 were negative, 2 were positive, and 4 are pending results. The remaining 3 were too far decomposed to be examined.
Evans said the 2 positive cases do not pose a threat to the public based on current infection patterns.