Beaufort News

Dead crows test negative for West Nile, will be screened for toxins

Dead crows found at the Bluffton public schools complex and in nearby neighborhoods don't carry West Nile virus or eastern equine encephalitis, tests by the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control determined.

Meanwhile, live crows watched over by Coastal Veterinary Clinic's Ben Parker -- who theorizes the bird were simply drunk after eating fermented berries or fruit -- were released Friday no worse for wear.

No more dead or ill crows were discovered Friday, Dr. Parker and school authorities said.

"Maybe it was a one-time event, and they left their little hangout and went on to better things," Parker said.

The dead crows have been sent to Clemson University for toxicology tests to try to determine what killed them, DHEC spokesman Adam Myrick said.

Parker thinks the birds died by flying into branches or windows while they were intoxicated.

If they were infected with a virus or had eaten a toxin, the condition of the crows he kept watch over would have gotten worse, Parker said.

Tim Cushing at Clemson University's Veterinary Diagnostic Center said he didn't want to speculate on the cause of death, but the toxicology screening could show organic pesticides or toxins.

The results could be ready in a from one to three weeks, Cushing said.

Sampling of Beaufort County mosquitoes has not detected West Nile so far this year, despite hundreds of positive samples in nearby Chatham County, Ga., according to Beaufort County mosquito-control director Gregg Hunt.

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Related content:Dead crows found near Bluffton school complex tested for West Nile, Oct. 13, 2011