Posted by: atowhee | August 8, 2015


This is the first recent case I know of: West Nile Virus [WNV] ,killing a Great Gray Owl in Oregon.  From past outbreaks we know that this species is highly susceptible to the disease.  There may be frequent cases but the bodies are not found by humans.

Blue Mountain Wildlife, a rehab center for sick or injured animals located near Pendleton, reports that the autopsy of a Great Gray that died there shows the bird was sick with West Nile.  It is quite likely that the rapid spread of the West Nile Virus across North  America has been hastened by climate change. The first cases in the U.S. were found in 1999.  Now it has hit every state except Alaska and Hawaii.  It has spread faster than the Eurasian Collared-Dove!  The disease vector for WNV are certain mosquito species.  Over 30 species have been found to carry the virus.

The state of Oregon recorded less than seventy cases of West Nile in 2014. These were in humans, horses and birds.  The counties with confirmed cases were Jackson and the tier of counties in eastern Oregon.  There has been no reported case among dogs in Oregon since 2009.

West Nile is now found in almost every state. It is spread by mosquito bites, not from one infected mammal or bird to another.  Worst areas now for West Nile are southern California, Arizona and coastal eastern Texas.  There is no preventive vaccine but there are treatments.  It;s estimated that only one-fifth of exposed humans even get the disease so many of us seem to have some inherited resistance.  But iot can prove fatal in some small percentage of cases.


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