West Nile Virus
It is likely West Nile Virus will become endemic in North Carolina this summer…increased mortality and occurrence of central nervous system signs in wild birds, especially crows, related corvids (blue jays, blackbirds, etc.), and raptors, will be the first indication of virus activity in the area…cases in horses, people, and other mammals may follow. Approximately 60 birds from NC have been submitted to the Federal Wildlife Laboratory in Madison WI this year…results on approximately half of these have been negative, but no results from the past 3 wks are yet available. The Dean’s office received a call reporting mortality in wild birds in a housing area in Apex (a cardinal with CNS signs was captured and submitted for examination) and I just found a blackbird with severe CNS signs in my neighbor’s yard this morning (I live in Medfield which is between Cary and Raleigh). There are other causes of CNS signs besides WNV infection…most commonly trauma or poisoning.
Be on the Lookout
Please be on the lookout for dead birds or ones behaving strangely (inability to fly, incoordination, rolling, somersaulting, etc.). Ignore those with an obvious cause of death (e.g. in the grill of your car, flattened on the road, hanging from kitty’s mouth, etc.) although clinically affected birds are more prone to predation and collision trauma. Live affected birds or freshly dead suspect ones should be submitted to the Public Health Dept Division of Pest Management (contact Drs. Nolan Newton or Barry Enger, 733-6407). They have an excellent website (listed below) that provides information on what to do and how to do it including a submission form. You may want to bookmark this in case you are contacted and asked about the procedure for submitting animals for diagnosis. At present they are being selective in what they submit so as not to overwhelm the system…crows have the highest priority. BIRDS should NOT be submitted to the Rollins Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory. However, MAMMALS with CNS signs SHOULD BE submitted to the Rollins ADDL so they can be examined for possible rabies, equine encephalitis, etc. in addition to WNV.
It wouldn’t hurt to also check around your home and nearby vacant areas and empty anything you can that has water in it. Even small amounts like that in a tin can can produce large numbers of mosquitoes. Be sure to take appropriate measures to minimize getting bitten with mosquitoes as well. With all of the moisture and increased temperatures recently a mosquito ‘bloom’ is expected.
If you need help with anything or if you have further questions contact John Barnes
West Nile Virus Links
- North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources
- Centers for Disease Control “West Nile Virus Activity — Eastern United States”