4 dead crows to be tested for exotic virus; No evidence is found of the disease; move is precautionary, official says


Howard County Health Department officials will send four dead crows to a Wisconsin lab today to be tested for the West Nile virus -- an exotic disease transmitted by mosquitoes and responsible for the deaths of five people in the New York area.

About a dozen crows were found dead Saturday in a marshy area along Frederick Road in West Friendship, according to John Surrick, a spokesman for the state Department of Natural Resources.

Since it was not clear how the crows died and the bodies were decomposed, health officials picked four carcasses that were in the best condition and will ship them to the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wis., said Bert Nixon, director of the Howard County Community Environment Health Program.

Surrick said there is no evidence to suggest the birds had contacted the virus that has caused an outbreak of illnesses around New York since August. The birds will be tested as a precautionary measure, he said, emphasizing that no confirmed cases of the virus have occurred in Maryland.

It is possible the crows died from eating food laced with pesticides, he said.

Pub Date: 10/20/99

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