WHAT IS WEST NILE VIRUS?
West Nile Virus (WNV) was first isolated in 1937 from a human in Uganda. WNV is one of the most widespread flaviviruses, having been reported in parts of Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The virus was first discovered in North America in 1999 following recognition of a concurrent outbreak in humans and birds in New York City. WNV is capable of causing disease in humans, birds, horses and possibly in other domestic and wild animals. The westward spread of WNV in 2001 (please refer to map above),emphasizes the importance of prevention measures in all states even in those not yet detected. It is estimated that WNV will invade California by late 2002. (Click for WNV Side Effects)
MOSQUITOES can become infected by feeding on viremic birds. The virus has been identified in over 20 species of adult mosquitoes in the US.
BIRDS become infected with WNV by the bite of an infected mosquito, or through direct contact with infected birds or their excreta. Wild birds are considered to be amplifying hosts as several species may produce a viremia sufficient to infect feeding mosquitoes. Although WNV has been recovered from over 70 species of birds in US, corvids (e.g. crows, raven, jays and magpies) appear to be most susceptible to severe illness. American crows constitute the majority of the bird deaths reported in eastern US. Birds can show signs of encephalitis, pneumonitis, nephritis and myocarditis. Signs are generalized and often include neurologic abnormalities and emaciation. Anyone seeing dead wild birds in their locale,should notify their state Health Services.
HUMANS become infected with WNV by the bite of an infected mosquito. The majority of humans infected with WNV have a mild, flu-like illness or inapparent infection. In rare cases, the virus can cause encephalitis and meningitis. The death rate in New York diagnosed WNV infected persons has been 14%. The elderly and young are the most susceptible (those with poor functioning immune systems).
HORSES acquire the WNV infection by the bite of an infected mosquito. Studies suggest that horses are incidental hosts for WNV. Limited research indicate that WNV infected horses do not produce a viremia sufficient to infect mosquito vectors. USDA has reported that there have been 416 cases (413 confirmed, three probable) of clinical WNV infection in horses from 19 states in 2001 (through November). Of 295 horses reported, 24% died or were euthanized. Symptoms exhibited were neurologic abnormalities (much like Western and Easter Equine Encephalitis virus). Fever was reported in fewer than 25% of the infected horses.
DOGS a few cases of dogs infected with WNV are being reported across the US. The infection is acquired by the bite of the infected mosquito.
WEST NILE VIRUS PREVENTION AND CONTROL IN ANIMALS
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