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No Spray News

James Irwin
PO Box 6393
Columbia, SC  29260


May 21, 2002      Page 4

The Facts on West Nile Virus

Even during an outbreak...

It's a One-Time Deal

   Infection with West Nile virus, even the usual inapparent infection that one is not even aware of, is believed to provide lifetime immunity to the disease. There is already a WNV vaccine for horses, and human trials of a vaccine for people are expected to begin later this year.

A Disease of Birds

   West Nile virus is a bird disease which people accidentally get. It is almost always fatal to crows, and for this reason dead crows are considered a good early indicator for the presence of this disease. Lois Levitan of Cornell reports that: "WNV-positive birds are almost always detected in an area well before the disease presents a risk to the local human population."

   While crows serve as sentinels for WNV, they are not important reservoirs for the virus, since they die so quickly. English sparrows (which are actually weaver finches) appear to provide an important reservoir for WNV, since in tests these birds developed the highest levels of the virus, and held this level for the longest period (up to 5 days). Obviously migratory birds are also involved, since West Nile virus has already reached Florida.

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