Skip to comments.West Nile Virus Heading Toward Texas
Posted on 02/05/2002 3:01:34 PM PST by blam
Date: Posted 2/5/2002
West Nile Virus Heading Toward Texas
COLLEGE STATION - Texans living near water are accustomed to annual warnings about St. Louis encephalitis. Now, they are being warned of a new virus sure to make its way into the state - West Nile encephalitis.
First detected in New York in the fall of 1999, the West Nile virus has recently spread from the east coast to Louisiana and Arkansas, putting Texas veterinarians on alert for what may be the inevitable migration of the virus into the state.
"West Nile encephalitis belongs to the same group of diseases as St. Louis encephalitis, the Flaviviridae family, and is named for the area in Uganda, Africa where it was first detected in the 1920s," said Dr. Ian Tizard, veterinarian and director of the Schubot Exotic Bird Health Center at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M University.
"This insect-borne virus spreads through the sting of infected mosquitoes and is carried by birds who act as reservoirs. While humans may become infected, the condition isn't usually too serious. Most healthy adults contracting the disease in the United States experience flu-like symptoms with no further complications. However, there have been a few fatal cases involving older patients. Among animals, the virus is most fatal to birds and horses."
Because of the susceptibility of wildlife, veterinarians who notice an unusually high number of dead birds (particularly crows) are asked to file a report with the Zoonosis Control Division of the Texas Department of Health.
In addition, surveillance programs are in place for the regular testing of dead birds, horses, captive waterfowl, and mosquitoes. The only commercial vaccine currently available is formulated for horses.
Since first detected, the virus has been largely seasonal in occurrence with most cases reported during warm weather months. The temperate Texas climate, however, is expected to sustain mosquitoes, and therefore West Nile, more continually than in northern climates.
Texas coastal areas, marshlands and other areas where mosquitoes breed in standing water and thrive are most likely to harbor infected mosquitoes.
"West Nile is essentially a bird virus," said Tizard. "A disease like this could be devastating to Texas birds, especially the exotic bird industry and the whooping crane population. Although citizens should know that it is illegal to handle wild birds (dead or alive), many people elect to dispose of them using gloves and a plastic bag to keep pets from eating them. If there are several dead birds in one area, contact either the Texas Department of Health or the Texas Animal Health Commission, and they will send someone to investigate the cause of death."
Hey, watch it! In Houston, Austin and San Antonio dead birds are registered as democrats and vote twice.
Back in '99 when it first showed up in NYC, there were several human deaths. The mayor began major aerial sprayings throughout the boroughs and issued bug spray to the citizens.
It showed up here in Florida last summer and my sister had the first horse in the county to catch it. It cost her thousands of dollars to treat the horse. The county sprayed her property twice after the incident.
I've read that same thing before. There were problems with the horses over here last year too.
I did lose more than 10 #'s during the ordeal, unfortunately, I put them all back on over the holidays.
Last August they came out with as vaccine for WNV for horses...wonder when they'll have one for people. I'm sure glad when I came moved here I brought cases of bug spray with me. I hate wearing the stuff, but it's better than death by a mosquito. I use netting around my bed in the summer and even have...but rarly use...bug protective clothing.
Now how do I get rid of those blasted fire ants? I got chickens (I'm down to four now) to eat the bugs, but even they avoid the fire ants!
I've been using Enforcer on the ants. Seems to get them to move to another location. Their bites are horrid!
I'm on a 17 acre lake in the woods. The Purple Martins fly up and down over the lake every evening. I have the Martin house on the edge of the lake. A Purple Martin house must have a minimum clearance of 15 feet around it in all directions and be a minimum height of 14 feet. LOL. I built a Purple Martin condo, it can house 48 birds.