Can hunters get West Nile Virus from eating infected game birds?

Some game birds have tested positive for West Nile Virus (WNV). However, there is no evidence of human infection by consumption of properly cooked infected game. Hunters are likely at higher risk of infection by mosquito exposure, particularly in wetland environments. Protective measures should be taken to prevent mosquito exposure while hunting. There are extremely rare cases of laboratory workers contracting WNV through accidental exposure to infected tissues and blood. Hunters should wear gloves when dressing (cleaning) the birds to protect against accidental injury and exposure to blood. Consult with a physician immediately if an injury occurs to discuss the risk of WNV exposure. To prevent exposure to any infectious organisms carried by game species, hunters should wash hands with soap and water after handling carcasses and should thoroughly cook the meat.

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What causes chronic wasting disease?

Chronic wasting disease is caused by a misfolded protein called a prion. All mammals produce normal prions that are used by cells, then degraded and eliminated, or recycled, within the body. When disease-associated prions contact normal prions, they cause them to refold into their own abnormal shape. These disease-associated prions are not readily...

How do I handle a sick or dead animal that might have West Nile Virus?

Under normal conditions, humans are unlikely to be infected with West Nile Virus by handling a sick or dead animal. However, there are a number of other infections that could potentially result from handling an animal. To protect yourself from exposure to any illness, you should wear gloves or put a plastic bag over your hand before touching the...

How do I know if an animal is infected with West Nile Virus?

Signs of infection in wildlife, like in humans , can range from no symptoms to severe symptoms of neurologic illness. Commonly reported signs in animals include weakness, stumbling, trembling, head tremors, inability to fly/walk, and a lack of awareness that allows them to be easily approached and handled. These symptoms, however, can also have...

What is the threat from West Nile Virus (WNV) to endangered and threatened bird species?

This is an issue of great concern, as these populations are already struggling to survive in the current environment. If some of these species are more vulnerable to fatal WNV infection, WNV may ultimately lead to their extinction or significantly set back the progress of the recovery programs.

Where in the United States has West Nile Virus been detected in wildlife?

West Nile Virus has been detected in all conterminous states of the U.S., the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Alaska, Hawaii, and Guam have no reported cases of West Nile virus in humans or animals. Distribution maps are available from the USGS and the Centers for Disease Control.

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...

Can my dog or cat get West Nile Virus by eating an infected animal?

Experimentally, it was found that this might be possible. However, there has been no evidence to indicate that West Nile Virus can be naturally transmitted to cats or dogs that carry or consume infected animals. Dogs and cats can be infected with West Nile Virus through the bite of a mosquito, so minimizing their exposure to mosquitoes is...

Is there a West Nile Virus vaccine available for birds?

At this time, there is not a West Nile Virus vaccine approved for use in birds. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in collaboration with several organizations and laboratories, is developing and testing vaccines for use in birds. Many zoos and wildlife centers have been using the Fort Dodge horse vaccine (West Nile-Innovator®) in...

What is Avian Influenza?

Avian influenza (AI) is caused by an influenza type A virus that can infect poultry such as chickens, turkeys, pheasants, quail, domestic ducks, geese, and guinea fowl. It is carried by wild waterfowl (ducks and geese) and shorebirds. Learn more at the USGS Avian Influenza website .

What is White-nose Syndrome?

White-nose syndrome is an emergent disease of hibernating bats that has spread from the northeastern to the central United States at an alarming rate. Since the winter of 2007-2008, millions of insect-eating bats in at least 33 states and seven Canadian provinces have died from this devastating disease. The disease is named for the white fungus,...
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Photograph of female mosquito (Aedes japonicus)
October 31, 2016

Female mosquito (Aedes japonicus) reared from larvae

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

Mosquito trap
May 16, 2016

Mosquito trap

Image: Biting Mosquito
March 14, 2016

Biting Mosquito

Culex species mosquito biting a human hand.

Mallard Duck swimming
May 16, 2010

Mallard Duck swimming

Mallard Duck swimming

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

USGS Scientist Set Mistnets for West Nile Virus Monitoring

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

Image: Northern Pintail Duck

Northern Pintail Duck

A male northern pintail duck in Japan.

Image: Curlews Caught by Mist Nets

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.

A captive male scaup at a USGS seaduck colony

A captive male scaup at a USGS seaduck colony

A captive male scaup at a USGS seaduck colony

Image: Duck Examination

Duck Examination

Researchers from the USGS National Wildlife Health Center examine a duck as part of part of efforts to identify, track, and prevent wildlife disease.