Thursday, September 20, 2001

Virus suspected in birds' deaths

The Associated Press

        FRANKFORT — Dead birds found in Jefferson and Woodford counties apparently were infected with West Nile virus, health officials said Wednesday.

        The virus is carried by birds and spread by mosquitoes. Humans can contract it. In rare cases, it can lead to deadly encephalitis, according to the state Department for Public Health.

        The dead birds — a crow and two sparrows found in Jefferson County and a grackle found in Woodford County — were tested at the University of Kentucky Livestock Disease Diagnostic Laboratory.

        Preliminary results indicated West Nile infection. Samples are being sent to a national laboratory in Madison, Wis., for more testing, Cabinet for Health Services spokesman Gil Lawson said. If confirmed, it would be the second known occurrence of the virus in Kentucky.

        A horse on a farm in Bourbon County was found to be infected in August but survived. There has been no confirmed case of the virus in a human in Kentucky.

        Until this summer, West Nile virus was found mainly in the Northeast. It has slowly made its way south and west.

        The disease is carried by birds, especially crows, blue jays and birds of prey. Mosquitoes acquire it from infected birds and can pass it along through bites to some livestock and humans.


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- Virus suspected in birds' deaths