Even though the warm summer days are coming to an end, the West Nile Virus is still being carried on by mosquitos. Numerous crows, hawks, eagles, owls, and song birds arrive at the sanctuary daily due to West Nile Virus. Once admitted, these birds get put on a strict regiment of medications, fluids, and tube-feedings. By the time the birds are noticed by the public, they are very weak and sick. the most common symptoms of the West Nile virus in birds are being underweight, lethargic, and unable to stand or fly. It is hoped that with supportive care, both birds of prey and song birds can eventually be released back into the wild.
The West Nile Virus is transmitted from an infected mosquito to a bird, therefore a human cannot contract the disease from touching a bird. Mosquitos themselves are often infected from feeding on birds with the virus. Due to the West Nile virus being a bird disease, most humans and mammals are not affected by it. Common pets like a dog or a cat do not usually show symptoms, unless they already have an illness that affects their immune system. According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services 80% of people have no symptoms, abut 20% have mild symptoms like a fever or headache, and less than 1% of humans have severe symptoms.
Do not be worried about contracting West Nile Virus from a bird, dead or alive. Safely gathering a sick bird or contacting the sanctuary for assistance is what is best for the bird`s recovery. The sooner West Nile Virus is diagnosed, the better chance of survival for our lovely birds of Wisconsin!