MEDFORD, Ore. — Experts say the early detection of West Nile in Malheur County, Oregon could be a result of improving surveillance programs. Despite that possibility, finding out the virus is circulating is a bit concerning for local experts.
“It’s worrisome because the earlier any of these diseases start, in general the worse they could be, just because the virus tends to increase exponentially,” said Jackson County Vector Control Biologist Jim Lunders.
According to Lunders, local experts are monitoring mosquitoes and birds. Ravens, crows, magpies, jays, American robins and red tail hawks all have a high mortality rate to West Nile.
Birds are really behind the spread because they can fly long distances with the virus in their system. Local experts are monitoring mosquitoes, but they’re also monitoring birds
“It effects their brain so they act drunk, is the best example, you know, they’re disoriented they fall around before they expire,” explained Lunders.
Experts want you to report this behavior in birds. Hot weather impacts the replication of the virus. It also means birds and mosquitoes will be hanging out by water sources.
“So what happens is you have more interaction between those bird species and the mosquito population,” said Lunders
Until the virus is detected in Jackson County, Vector Control will remain vigilant and asks the public to do the same.