|WARNING WEST NILE VIRUS.
30 or so sub-species of Culex mosquitoes all carry the West Nile Virus, however only 1 or 2 strains have been identified as the principle culprits.
Some Birds including crows (corvids) and RAPTORS are especially vulnerable.
As well as birds, horses and humans a great many other species can be infected and provide the "reservoir". The mosquito especially, But ticks and other blood-sucking insects are the "vector".
Over 270 people to date have already died in N. America, three in Canada from W. Nile encephalitis, which has also killed 20,000 horses.
There is NO CURE.
Treatment is supportive alone.
CURRENTLY THE ONLY SOLUTION IS PREVENTION.
WEST NILE WILL PROBABLY DEVASTATE WILD & CAPTIVE RAPTOR POPULATIONS HERE as it already has in some areas back East. Yes, even here in British Columbia.
New World birds appear to be especially vulnerable, quite likely in a similar manner to the way North American Indians were so decimated by simple measles brought over by Christopher Columbus.
Sparrows get infected, are viraemic but have not the decency to even get sick.
Interestingly some species such as poultry appear immune or at least very little affected.
The Internet is full of practical advice and information such as discouraging mosquito-breeding larvae by getting rid of standing water, rain barrels, old tyres etc.
Since being first identified in 1999 at the Bronx Zoo, West Nile has rapidly spread across most of North America, from east to west, even to Washington State now and has become endemic. West Nile has not yet been reported in Idaho, Oregon, BC, Alberta, the Northern Territories and Alaska, but will certainly be here in BC by spring 2003.
One reason why the spread has been so rapid is because there is vertical transmission from infected mosquitoes to their waterborne larvae, which hatch out already infected and ready to spread WNV.
There is evidence from the Center for Disease Control, Ames, Iowa; that West Nile can also be spread by infected food, as cats and kestrels have been infected from viraemic mice.
There is also anecdotal evidence that because a time-temperature equation is important to Culex mosquito reproduction this epidemic may not pick up momentum until late spring and may (hopefully) not consequently spread to Alaska and similar northern latitudes either, because of short summers.
Statements have also been made that there can be bird to bird spread, presumably meaning without a vector; similarly from parents to their young and also from an infected incubating bird through the eggshell to the chick, but I have not seen any science to support this yet. Dr Redig confirms however that the virus is excreted in mutes.
Frantic efforts are being made to develop a vaccine.
A horse vaccine has recently been released by Fort Dodge Animal Health, a division of Multi-National Drug Company Wyeth – Ayerst. This killed virus vaccine, may not give protection to raptors even in horse sized doses. It is being used because it does not seem to do any harm. Protection varies from species to species. It probably works for Cranes for instance.
A simple challenge test using Equine Vaccine appeared to show some protection but an Eliza antibody test did not produce the hoped for antibody immune response, which is a bit of a contradiction.
Another company, Acombis hopes to use Trans genetic magic to alter very safe live attenuated virus yellow fever vaccine by inserting West Nile RNA. Yet another has plans to similarly "piggyback" Dengue Fever Vaccine.
I have been liasing with renowned Raptor Biologist, Dr. Pat. Redig of Univ. of Minnesota Raptor Center who is co-operating with others to try and develop a DNA vaccine for Avians, which they hope, will be produced by Bio-Immune. This vaccine is probably at least 18 months off.
San Diego is trialing a CDC vaccine for their California Condors and initial immune response tests are encouraging. They are awaiting results of further tests to see if protection is sustained.
I WOULD ENCOURAGE ALL BREEDERS & FALCONERS TO CONTRIBUTE TO PAT. REDIG'S PROJECT OUT OF SELF-INTEREST.
I tried to bring up the subject of W. Nile at a recent falconry meeting but was met with complete dis-interest. SUCH IS THE ARROGANCE OF IGNORANCE. I hope for their sake that Dr. Pat Redig and I turn out to be alarmist and plain wrong. I don’t believe this will be so however. The Vancouver Sun very recently ran an article stating that horse owners in British Columbia have only had 10,000 of 90,000 "hayburners" vaccinated. Currently in BC efforts are being made to simplify and rationalize our Falconry Regulations. This could all be moot if WNV decimates our raptor populations as it very well could
THIS IS WHAT I’VE DONE TO PROTECT MY BREEDING PROJECT. I HAVE MOSQUITO PROOFED ALL MY PENS. I STRONGLY ADVISE ALL FALCONERS TO DO THE SAME. I HAVE PURCHASED ROLLS OF ALUMINUM SCREEN DOOR MESH AVAILABLE FROM BUILDING SUPPLIERS. THIS SHOULD WORK NICELY BUT BECAUSE IT MAKES MY PENS DARKER & BECAUSE LIGHT & PHOTOPERIOD ARE SO IMPORTANT, I HAVE PAINTED THE INTERIORS WHITE. I WOULD STRONGLY ENCOURAGE ALL FALCONERS TO SIMILARLY MOSQUITO PROOF THEIR MEWS OR BREEDING PENS RIGHT NOW SO THEY ARE PROTECTED BY SPRING MOSQUITO SEASON.
The cost is very modest and surely worth the peace of mind..
Our Custom Made West Nile Proof Breeding Pens
Click on Picture to Enlarge
I will post pictures showing what I’ve done to my pens, which I would be, prepared to show to sincerely interested persons. Triflers and lookey loos are NOT welcome as it is already the BREEDING SEASON again.
Falcon Health Links: Avian invitro fertilization | Artificial Insemination (A.I.) | Aspergillosis