Are birds the only species that is susceptible to West Nile Virus infection?

West Nile Virus (WNV) has been detected in at least 48 species of mosquitoes, over 320 species of birds, at least 2 species of reptiles, and more than 25 mammalian species, including horses and humans.

Birds are the natural host and reservoir of WNV. Although other animals are susceptible to WNV infection, only birds develop a high enough virus load to transmit the infection to an uninfected mosquito.

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Photograph of a person conducting mosquito sampling on a boardwalk
2016 (approx.)

Researchers dip sampling for mosquitoes along the Alaka‘i Swamp Trail, Kaua‘i

Photograph of female mosquito (Aedes japonicus)
2016 (approx.)

A female mosquito (Aedes japonicus) reared from larvae collected from the Kawaikoi Stream, Kauai.

Mosquito trap
May 16, 2016
Image: Biting Mosquito
March 14, 2016

Culex species mosquito biting a human hand.

Rachel Richardson retrieving a Yellow Warbler from a mist net on the Seward Peninsula, Alaska
July 22, 2012

Rachel Richardson retrieving a Orange Warbler from a mist net in the boreal forest on the Seward Peninsula, Alaska. The project was part of the Changing Arctic Ecosystem program.

A Kaua‘i Amakihi on koli‘i
2009 (approx.)

Historically abundant and widespread on the island of Kaua‘i, the population of Kaua‘i Amakihi, like other native Hawaiian forest birds, is now largely restricted to high elevation forest habitats.

Image: USGS Scientist Set Mistnets for West Nile Virus Monitoring
February 8, 2005

USGS scientists capture and release wild birds while monitoring for West Nile.

Image: Curlews Caught by Mist Nets

Curlews are very attentive parents and fly close to intruders and alarm call to distract them from their young broods. USGS scientists take advantage of this behavior by using a mist net to sweep birds out of the air when they approach. In June 2007, USGS scientists used this approach to tag 13 curlews with satellite transmitters at their southern breeding area in Alaska. They use satellite telemetry to track these birds, in order to map their migration routes and find the location of their nonbreeding areas.

Mosquito, Aedes aegypti

Mosquito, Aedes aegypti