Health officials have identified a bird infected with the West Nile virus in the Oakbrook area of Summerville.

It's the first confirmed case in the state this year. It's also the first time an infected bird has been found in the Summerville area, and it's several months earlier than normal.

It's not clear whether the problem is spreading or residents are doing a better job of reporting dead birds, said Paul Campbell, program manager for the Department of Health and Environmental Control's regional office.

Until this case, infected birds were found only in West Ashley, James Island and downtown Charleston, and they were first reported in August the last several years.

DHEC had identified the virus in mosquitoes in Summerville before, but this is the first time it has been found in a bird there, Campbell said. Mosquitoes spread the West Nile virus to birds and sometimes humans. DHEC regularly tests mosquitoes and relies on residents to report dead crows and blue jays for testing.

Most people infected with West Nile virus don't get sick, but about 20 percent get West Nile fever, which can last several weeks, Dr. Lena Bretous with DHEC's Bureau of Disease Control said in a statement on the agency's Web site.