West Nile Virus Detected in Bird Found in Massachusetts

A dead crow found in Wakefield on Tuesday has tested positive for the West Nile Virus, the first case in Massachusetts this year, state health officials said on Friday.

Ralph Timperi, assistant public health commissioner, said the early finding should not be seen as a prediction of West Nile cases in the months ahead. The state's testing program for the virus began Monday.

West Nile Virus was first seen in North America in New York City in 1999 and has spread to 27 states in the past two years. The virus was first detected in Massachusetts in a dead crow found in the Jamaica Plain section of Boston in July 2000.

Massachusetts' first three human cases were reported last fall. One elderly Woburn man died after being infected.

The virus is primarily an infection of birds, but can pass to people when a mosquito that bites an infected bird subsequently bites a human.