WNV and Crows, etc.

'Devorah' D Wisti nyneve at u.washington.edu
Sat Sep 21 12:58:42 PDT 2002

hello tweets,

in short, i think the answer is that there is nothing we can do for
our beloved wild birds with regards to combatting west nile virus.
we can all declare "war" on mosquitoes and empty their stagnant pools
of standing water that act as larval playpens, but otherwsie, there
is little we can do.

i am aware of zoos in the eastern part of the country who have been
vaccinating their birds with vaccines developed for horses. however,
it is too early to get a good idea of the effectiveness of these
vaccines or the potential side effects. i assume any zoo or wildlife
park that holds endangered birds will consider using these vaccines
on those birds, at least.

as far as the human risk for the disease, it is really laughable to
see how people panic over 13 deaths from WNV in the past year when i
clearly remember how NO ONE panicked (at first!) over THOUSANDS of
deaths from HIV when i was a wee one. in fact, the HIV infection rate
is once more increasing, and it kills more people each year than WNV,
so it just goes to show you how fickle the general populace is with
regards to disease organisms. so the human risk from WNV is extremely
minimal, however, the birds run a much higher risk, although no one
is really sure what the mortality is since we cannot know the full
extent of the damage from WNV in wild bird populations (we can, however,
assess it indirectly through bird censuses, surveys and whatnot).


Devorah A. N. Bennu, PhD (in transition between Seattle and NYC)
nyneve at u.washington.edu
Chapman Postdoctoral Fellow
The American Museum of Natural History, New York City
Visit me on the web: http://students.washington.edu/~nyneve/
Love the creator? Then protect the creation.

On Fri, 20 Sep 2002, mapste wrote:

> I would guess all of us cringe at the thought of any birds (well maybe not Starlings!) stricken down by WNV, and by "Silent Spring" scenarios from mosquito spraying. It doesn't seem like there is much we can do about our bird populations, as they could be decimated by either the disease or the spraying or both. This is a very sad, helpless feeling when you are a person who doesn't just see birds as "indicator species" of WNV for human concerns.


> One of the responses I got from Fish & Wildlife said that we have to control the panic over this disease, which the media is making very difficult as they announce every human contagion or death, keeping it in the news all the time. I noted some statistics from the websites I've been reading and it seems the likelihood of a person dying from a mosquito bite is extremely small. (Don't quote me, I may not remember every number, see www.cdc.gov if interested.) Only a small number of people are likely to be bitten by an infected mosquito. Only 20% of those bitten will have ANY sign of illness. Less than 1% of those who get ill will get the severe form of the virus and be hospitalized; the rest will suffer short-term flu-like symptoms. Less than 25% of those hospitalized will die from it. Although every death is a tragedy to someone, these numbers are sounding pretty small to me, not a national epidemic to panic over. But then I have been accused of being cold and scientific sometimes!


> So mainly, I'm worried about the birds and what we can do for them. Am I right, is the answer "Nothing"?




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