West Nile Virus
by Madalyn James
This summer I had the amazing opportunity to be able to intern in the rehab program here at the sanctuary. Being a rehab intern over the summer I got to experience many new things from helping orphaned baby rabbits to giving medical attention to sick and injured wildlife. One things I found to be most rewarding was helping diseased animals to be released back into the wild.
During the internship in the middle of the summer we started to get a high number of birds and raptors with similar symptoms of being weak, not being able to fly, or stand and having abnormal pupil size. The suspected aliment was West Nile Virus; with this virus birds serve as the host, which is spread by mosquitoes. West Nile Virus doesn’t have a specific treatment other than supportive care to help alleviate symptoms so that the bird can fight the virus and get better. Once we established that the animal is a suspect of West Nile Virus we had a set regiment to help the bird fight the disease.
The birds would be put on an antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, vitamin B and would be tube feed twice a day and give subcutaneous fluids twice a day. Tube feeding would be done so that they wouldn’t have to expend much energy on digestion and so that their bodies could focus on fighting the virus. When we noticed symptoms subsided and when they started to look better they would start eating solid food again and then were picked up by one of the bird of prey rehabbers so they could continue to get better and be released back out into the wild. We had quite a lot of success with this process and it was a really good feeling to know we were doing the best we could to help these birds to be released back into the wild.