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Emerg Infect Dis. 2003 Jun;9(6):641-6.

Dead bird clusters as an early warning system for West Nile virus activity.

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  • 1New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, New York 10013, USA.


An early warning system for West Nile virus (WNV) outbreaks could provide a basis for targeted public education and surveillance activities as well as more timely larval and adult mosquito control. We adapted the spatial scan statistic for prospective detection of infectious disease outbreaks, applied the results to data on dead birds reported from New York City in 2000, and reviewed its utility in providing an early warning of WNV activity in 2001. Prospective geographic cluster analysis of dead bird reports may provide early warning of increasing viral activity in birds and mosquitoes, allowing jurisdictions to triage limited mosquito-collection and laboratory resources and more effectively prevent human disease caused by the virus. This adaptation of the scan statistic could also be useful in other infectious disease surveillance systems, including those for bioterrorism.

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