< Previous Page
While she is glad to finally have a name for what is impacting the eagles, Erickson is not happy with the prognosis.
"I wish there was a cure for West Nile, but there is not," she said. "We are doing all we can to help them, but it is basically up to the bird’s immune system if they can fight it off. All we can do is help them with that fight."
West Nile virus
West Nile is a mosquito-borne virus that can cause disease in humans, birds, horses, and some other mammals. The virus was first found in the U.S. in 1999 and in Utah in August 2003.
There is no proof that West Nile virus can spread from human to human or from animal to human. Infection occurs from being bitten by a mosquito; not all mosquitoes carry the virus.
Source: Utah Department of Health; Office of Epidemiology
Three of the birds being treated at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Northern Utah are now able to stand and are eating. A juvenile male that arrived at the center in a more compromised state is not faring as well, but has shown signs of improvement.
"West Nile does damage to the brain, the heart and other organs," Erickson said. "We need to see if that damage is permanent or if it will heal in each individual case."
Baker and McFarlane encourage people not to touch sick or dead birds, including eagles. Instead, call the nearest DWR offices in Ogden, Vernal, Springville, Cedar City or Price with the animal’s location. The Help Stop Poaching Hotline, 1-800-662-3337, is another option on weekends and holidays and after hours.
State officials say this late case of West Nile virus should not concern people with livestock.
"Because mosquitoes aren’t active in the winter we see no eminent danger to domestic livestock in Utah, including backyard chickens, horses or other small or large farm operations," said Bruce King, state veterinarian with the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.
Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.