Lincoln County Health & Human Services

Environmental Health Program

West Nile Virus

West Nile is a public health concern. We expect limited exposure in Lincoln County, yet people need to take steps for protection. (Esta página en Español)

Contact Information:

Lincoln County Health and Human Services Department
36 S.W. Nye St.
Newport, OR 97365
tel: (541) 265-4127

Lincoln County Health and Human Services Department and other health officials are working to minimize the impact of West Nile Virus in Lincoln County through education, surveillance, and prevention measures.

On this page, you will view detailed information about West Nile Virus, including how it is spread, symptoms, risk information, as well as prevention and control measures.

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Q: Is West Nile Virus present in Lincoln County and in Oregon at this time?
A: Yes, there have been confirmed laboratory cases of West Nile Virus in Oregon since 2004.  The virus has been found in birds and people.

In Lincoln County a total of 3 crows have tested positive for West Nile Virus since testing began in 2004.  Two of these crows were found in 2006; one in Depoe Bay and one in Newport.  The other crow was found just north of Newport in 2007.  In 2008 nine birds were tested and none were positive for West Nile Virus.

There have been no human cases of West Nile Virus in Lincoln County.

Q: What is West Nile Virus?
A: West Nile (WN) virus is a mosquito borne virus that has been found in parts of Asia, Eastern Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. It is a virus that was first detected in the United States in 1999 in New York City. It is believed that migrating birds play a major role in spreading the disease.

The majority of people and animals that are infected with the virus have a mild illness or no symptoms. In rare cases, the virus can cause a more serious condition called encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain. Persons over 50 years of age have a higher risk for the disease caused by WN virus.

Transmission Cycle of West Nile Virus

Q: How do people and animals get West Nile Virus?
A: WN virus is not spread from person to person. WN virus is transmitted to people and animals by infected mosquitoes. Only certain species of mosquitoes carry the virus and very few mosquitoes are actually infected. A mosquito first gets the infection by feeding on a bird with WN virus in its blood. The virus lives in the mosquito and is transmitted to a new host in the mosquito’s saliva when the insect bites a person or animal.

Humans do not pass the West Nile virus to other humans. Evidence suggests there is a possibility of acquiring WN virus through blood transfusion or organ transplants from an infected donor. It has also been found in breast milk of affected mothers but these findings do not suggest a change in breastfeeding recommendations.

There is no documented evidence of bird or animal-to-person transmission. However, it is still a good idea to avoid barehanded contact with any dead birds or animals and to use gloves, a shovel, and double plastic bags to dispose of or transport a carcass.

In northern states of the United States of America, where WN virus is present, the virus is most prevalent from May to October (when mosquitoes are most abundant).

Most people who are infected with WN virus have no symptoms at all. It has been estimated that 1 in 150 people who are infected with WN virus will require hospitalization. However, of those who become ill, symptoms can include fever, headache, nausea, body aches, mild skin rash, or swollen lymph nodes. In a few cases, the disease will progress to encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) marked by headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, seizures, muscle weakness, paralysis and rarely death. The time between a mosquito bite and the onset of illness, known as the incubation period, ranges from 3-14 days in humans.

Persons over 50 years of age are particularly susceptible to clinical illness caused by WN virus. There is no known specific treatment for infection with WN virus although supportive care is required.

chipmunkQ: Which animals get West Nile Virus?
A: An infected mosquito can bite any animal, but not all animals will become infected. The disease most often affects birds.

bird Birds: Wild birds are the animals from which the mosquito vector primarily acquires the virus. Infection has been reported in more than 100 bird species. Although many birds that are infected with WN virus will not appear ill, WN virus infection can cause serious illness and death in some birds. The most severe illnesses are seen among the corvid birds, which include crows, jays, ravens, and magpies. American crows constitute the majority of birds reported dead due to WN virus.

horse Horses: Horses are susceptible to WN virus. The disease does not seem to be specific to a particular breed or age of horse. Clinical signs of disease consist of central nervous system abnormalities similar to those caused by infection with eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) and western equine encephalitis (WEE). EEE and WEE vaccines are available for horses and are recommended for use in the spring. An equine WN virus vaccine has become available for horses and is also recommended.

The vaccines available for horses are strongly recommended by the Oregon Department of Agriculture, the Oregon Health Division, Lincoln County Health and Human Services Department, and Lincoln County veterinarians.

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West Nile Virus Prevention and Control

To decrease exposure to mosquitoes and the infections they carry:

* Avoid outside activity at dawn, dusk and early evening during the mosquito season (May to October). This is especially important for the elderly and young children.
* Wear protective clothing (long pants and long sleeves).
* Apply insect repellent containing 35% DEET according to instructions when outside. Other products known to provide effective repellant protection for you may be used.
* Place mosquito netting over infant carriers when outdoors.
* Make sure that doors and windows have tight fitting small mesh screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or holes in them.

"Mosquito Hygiene": Egg, Larval, and Pupal Stages

Breeding site "source reduction":

* Drain standing water or fill puddles.
* Clean up garbage.
* Eliminate empty "artificial water collecting containers".
* Drill holes in tires or store dry and under cover.
* Store small boats upside down or covered.
* Remove decaying vegetation and floating debris from ponds and treatment plant lagoons.
* Change water weekly in birdbaths, stock tanks, animal water bowls or other containers.

Life cycle disruption:

Eggs, larvae & pupae live in standing, stagnate water:

* Keep rain gutters, roadside ditches, etc. free of debris so water can flow.
* Aerate "lily ponds" and swimming pools. Chlorine will not kill mosquito larvae.

Adult Stage:

Adult Transmission Cycle of West Nile Virus Reduce exposure to biting mosquitoes. Apply mosquito repellents. Read label instructions and precautions prior to use. Pay attention to the type & concentration of "active ingredients" in the product. Use mosquito attractant devices for some situations.

Q: What is the Lincoln County plan for West Nile surveillance?
A: Dead Bird Surveillance/What Do I Do If I See a Dead Bird? The State of Oregon laboratory is analyzing dead crows or jays.

Persons who find a dead crow or jay are requested to call Lincoln County Environmental Health (at 541-265-4127) to discuss laboratory analysis for West Nile Virus. The crow or jay would have to be freshly dead (dead less than 24 hours; no maggots, etc; and dead not because of obvious physical trauma/injury).

Note: Do not handle dead crows or jays with bare hands; use protective gloves. Keep the dead bird triple bagged and cold. If you find one on a weekend:  triple bag the bird(s) and freeze or "ice" it; make the call to report it on the next working day.

Mosquito Control: Control methods such as spraying programs would only be considered if a high risk situation in Lincoln County has been firmly established. Spraying would be very, very unlikely in wetlands and other environmentally sensitive areas, however.

If spraying programs were ever necessary, on a limited basis, licensed & trained personnel would be necessary, and approvals for spraying would have to be obtained from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and also the Oregon Health Division.


Lincoln County Report Dead Birds Hotline:
English 265-4127   |   Spanish 265-4127

Oregon Health Division Hotline:
Toll Free: 1-866-703-4636


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State Information

  • Activity/Statistics in Oregon: Oregon Public Health Services
    Fact sheets, maps, and other links to information about West Nile Virus. Includes information for health care providers and veterinarians.

National Information

Equine Oriented

    Everything you need to know about West Nile Virus and horses.

Other Links

Lincoln County does not discriminate against any person with regard to race, age, mental/physical handicap relating to terms of employment, provision of service to the public or access to public facilities.


Send mail to  with questions, concerns or comments
about our programs or this web site.

Lincoln County Health & Human Services
36 SW Nye Street  • Newport, Oregon 97365 • 
Public Health – tel: (541) 265-4112  •  fax: (541) 265-4194
Environmental Health – tel: (541) 265-4127  •  fax: (541) 574-6252
Mental Health – tel: (541) 265-4179  •  fax: (541) 265-4194