Duncraft’s West Nile Fact Sheet
1. West Nile Virus (WNV) is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no evidence that the WNV is spread from person to person or from animal or bird to person.
2. The best way to reduce risk of becoming infected with WNV? The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advises the following:
a. Protect yourself from mosquito bites by applying insect repellent sparingly to the skin, spray repellent on clothing, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants, stay indoors at peak mosquito time (dawn, dusk, early evening), repair screens with holes.
b. Reduce the number of mosquitoes in outdoor areas by draining sources of standing water. This reduces the number of places mosquitoes can lay their eggs and breed. Check for clogged rain gutters; at least once or twice a week, empty water from flower pot dishes, buckets, barrels, birdbaths, outdoor pet water dishes — and fill with fresh water. Check for containers out of sight, e.g., under a deck.
3. Adding a water wiggler to your bird bath is a great way to keep the water moving so that the mosquitoes don’t use it as a handy place to lay their eggs.
4. West Nile is a well-established disease in Africa, Asia and Europe, where it’s carried and transmitted by mosquitoes and lives primarily in birds. In this, its natural range, it rarely kills its avian hosts.
5. In 1999 West Nile arrived in New York City. The virus is behaving differently on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. It has spread geographically at a quick pace – identified in 44 states and 5 Canadian provinces. While it still primarily infects birds, it has also struck several types of mammals and even a harbor seal.
6. The majority of bird victims in North America have been corvids – crows, blue jays, ravens, magpies. Midwestern raptors were hard hit in 2002 – red-tailed hawks and great-horned owls. However, a total of 152 species were known to be infected by year’s end in 2002.
7. As of mid-June 2003, according to the Centers for Disease Control, no human cases of West Nile have been reported in the US in 2003. In 2002 there were 4,156 illnesses and 284 deaths.
8. WNV, through mosquitoes transmitting to birds, has resulted in many thousands of bird deaths. Scientists believe that over the long term WNV will kill fewer birds as the virus becomes less lethal and birds establish resistance – a process that may take between ten to thirty years.
9. For more information on WNV, we recommend you visit the West Nile section on the website for the Centers of Disease Control. This federal government site is an excellent resource for additional facts and technical information.