The West Nile Virus That Could be Slaying the Eagles

It is an unusual environmental event, especially in winter time, but an outbreak of the West Nile virus has wreaked havoc on the wellness and wellbeing of the bald eagle population. This deadly virus has now killed more than two dozen of the amazing birds in Utah, and has also killed thousands of shore birds in the area around the Great Salt Lake. This is according to wildlife officials from the state.


At the last count, 27 bald eagles had fallen victim to the deadly disease, in the northern and central parts of the state of Utah. This is a blood-borne virus, and biologists from the state have reported that there are currently at least five more eagles who are in rehabilitation centres receiving treatment for the disease.


It is believed that the bald eagles have been contracting the disease due to preying on sick and dead shore birds that are called eared grebes, which have been infected by the West Nile virus. These water birds have been dying in their thousands in the area around the Great Salt Lake since early November. An initial series of tests seemed to indicate that the birds had fallen victim to a serious bacterial disease, such as avian cholera, but a more in depth study has now shown that the deaths have been caused by the West Nile virus.


It is important to note that the dead birds are not considered a risk to human health, but at the same time, those who find such dead birds (or sick ones even) are being urged not to handle them if at all possible.


It is unusual for the West Nile virus to cause deaths in the wintertime, as the mosquitoes are usually the prime carriers of the disease from bird to bird (and they are only active during the summer time).

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