Skip to main content

Sentinel Chickens

May contain: animal
A chicken from the sentinel flock gets a blood test for West Nile virus.

The District uses sentinel chickens in some parts of the County to detect West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne diseases. Even if infected with West Nile virus or another mosquito-borne disease, chickens do not usually get sick, and cannot pass on the virus to mosquitoes, people, or other birds. They serve as an early indicator of disease in areas where dead birds are less likely to be seen and/or reported.

From May through October, sentinel chickens are bled every other week and their blood is tested for the presence of antibodies against West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne diseases. They are bled humanely by a lancet similar to a finger prick.

To date, no West Nile virus antibodies have been detected in sentinel chickens in San Mateo County.



Page last reviewed: December 30, 2022

Join our mailing list