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West Nile Virus
Reporting dead birds in Benton and Franklin Counties


If you find a dead bird:


Only certain birds are submitted for West Nile testing.
Photo by Kelly McAllister.  Image courtesy of WDFW.

  • If you find a dead crow, raven, magpie, jay, or raptor and the bird is fresh and undamaged, please report it for possible West Nile virus testing. Report birds found in Benton and Franklin Counties by calling the Benton-Franklin Health District at 509 460 HAWK (4295) or use the Washington State Online Bird Reporting Form.
  • Dead chickens and other domestic poultry should be reported to the Washington State Department of Agriculture (1-800-606-3056).
  • Dead wild birds should be reported to the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (1-800-606-8767).
  • Only some crows, ravens, magpies, jays or raptors will be selected for West Nile virus testing. If the bird is not eligible for testing, you may dispose of it in your outside garbage.

  • Do not handle dead birds with your bare hands. Instead, use gloves, a shovel, or a plastic bag placed over your hand to pick up the bird. Double-wrap the bird in two plastic bags before placing in your garbage.  Be sure to wash your hands, even if you were careful to not touch the bird.

Why are only certain birds used for West Nile virus surveillance?

Raptors and birds in the Corvidae family (such as crows, ravens, magpies and jays) are used for surveillance because they commonly become sick or die when they get the West Nile virus.    

Birds that are eligible for testing may be collected to be sent to a lab in Pullman, Washington.

Submitting reminders

  • The cause of death must be from natural causes. There can be no obvious signs of death (hit by a car, killed by a cat, bullet hole, etc.).
  • The bird must be freshly dead--less than 24 hours-- intact (not scavenged), and free of excessive heat damage to be tested. If the carcass has an odor, is soft and mushy, has skin discoloration, feathers or skin that easily rubs off, sunken eyes, or has maggots present, it is too decomposed for testing.
  • Since the cause of death is unknown, it is always best to avoid direct contact with the bird
  • The Benton-Franklin Health District is not available on the weekends to collect dead birds. If you find a dead bird on the weekend, please make note of the approximate time of death and location of the bird and call the information in on Monday morning, report it with the Washington State Online Bird Reporting Form, or call the after-hours Bird Reporting Line at (509) 460 HAWK (4295).
  • The current status on West Nile virus throughout Washington is available from the Washington State Department of Health Zoonotic Program

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Benton Franklin Health District
7102 W Okanogan Pl
Kennewick WA
(509) 460 4200
412 W Clark
Pasco WA
(509) 547-9737

Emergency Contact Information

Personal Emergency for Medical, Police, Fire, or Other: 911
Washington Poison Center: 1 (800) 222-1222 (www.wapc.org)
Washington Community Resource Information: 211 (www.win211.org)
BFHD Public Health Emergency/Imminent Health Hazard After-Hours Reporting: 509-543-3851
The public can reference BFHD policies available in Kennewick office.
BFHD Privacy Statement:English / Spanish
Copies of the annual report available at all BFHD offices.
State and County Resources
Rules and Regulations Administered by or Governing the Benton-Franklin Health District
WAC's - RCW's
Community Health Status Indicators
Reportable Conditions
Contact: info(at)bfhd.wa.gov                                                                                                                             Employees