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 animal and you should wash your hands with soap and water immediately afterward. The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health has detailed recommendations for ways that outdoor workers or laboratory, field, and clinical workers can protect themselves from infection.

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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 Centers for Disease Control. Learn more: Vector-Borne Diseases

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...

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...

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: USGS Avian Influenza

What is chronic wasting disease?

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a fatal, neurological illness occurring in North American cervids (members of the deer family), including white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk, and moose. Since its discovery in 1967, CWD has spread geographically and increased in prevalence locally. CWD is contagious; it can be transmitted freely within and among...

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 37 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.

Photograph of a person conducting mosquito sampling on a boardwalk
October 31, 2016

Mosquito sampling along the Alaka‘i Swamp Trail, Kaua‘i

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

Mosquito trap
May 16, 2016

Mosquito trap

Image: Biting Mosquito
March 14, 2016

Biting Mosquito

Culex species mosquito biting a human hand.

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

Rachel Richardson retrieving a Yellow Warbler from a mist net

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.

Man releasing duck in Japan. He wears a face mask for protection from disease
April 22, 2012

USGS Scientist Andy Ramey releases a Northern Pintail Duck in Japan

USGS Alaska Science Center biologists Andrew Ramey and John Reed travelled to Japan to capture spring staging northern pintail ducks in collaboration with researchers from the University of Tokyo, Satoyama Research Society, and Kucharo Lake Waterfowl Observatory. This capture effort will further inform the role of migratory birds in the movement of avian diseases, the

Image: Sampling Forster’s Tern Chicks for Avian Influenza Study
January 1, 2010

Sampling Forster’s Tern Chicks for Avian Influenza Study

Scientists sampling Forster's Tern chicks for avain influenza during salt pond restoration work in south San Francisco Bay salt ponds.

Testing for Avian Influenza
December 31, 2008

Testing for Avian Influenza

A USGS scientist takes a sample from a northern pintail duck (Anas acuta) to be tested for avian influenza.