I have a bird feeder (or birdbath) in my yard. Am I putting myself and healthy birds at risk of infection?

West Nile Virus is most often spread to humans from the bite of an infected mosquito. However, it’s always a good idea to follow basic hygienic procedures. Birdbaths and feeders should be washed or disinfected regularly. Wash your hands with soap and water after touching the baths/feeders. Here is a brochure on best practices for coping with disease at bird feeders.

To prevent mosquitoes from breeding on your property, empty and clean birdbaths at least once a week and eliminate any other standing water in your area. Contact local health officials if you are concerned about potential mosquito breeding sites in your area.

In a natural setting, the only way that a bird can become infected with West Nile Virus is through the bite of an infected mosquito. It’s highly unlikely that a bird can get the virus simply by close association with an infected bird. 

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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 bird s, 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 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 29 states and five Canadian provinces have died from this devastating disease. The disease is named for the white fungus,...
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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

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.

three neotropical birds (Left to right: Magnolia warbler, Wilson's warbler, Canada warbler - all males) that were cought in mist
December 31, 2009

three neotropical birds

Three neotropical birds (Left to right: Magnolia warbler, Wilson's warbler, Canada warbler - all males) that were cought in mist net for banding

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: 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.

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Mosquito, Aedes aegypti

Mosquito

Mosquito, Aedes aegypti