West Nile Virus! I FOUND A SICK CROW!

Valley Wildlife Care drawing blood from a current West Nile Virus patient that is in our care.  We are tesing the blood for antibodies as this crow is recovering.

Valley Wildlife Care is currently taking and treating birds infected with West Nile Virus.  Some species have a higher death rate than others. Corvids such as crows, ravens, and jays have zero to little immunity to the virus.  In 2005 Valley Wildlife Care was the first rehab center to assist a raven through the virus and make a complete recovery.  This raven was the first documented case of recovery in a raven in the Unites States.

We are proud of our accomplishment and it has helped us to thrive in treating infected birds.  Although there survival rates are low we treat every patient with the hopes he /she will recover.  Valley Wildlife Care currently has several birds in rehab being treated for West Nile Virus.  We work closely with vector control in taking blood samples of our patients and monitoring their recovery status.

What to do if you find a sick bird:

Use a towel or sheet and place it in a box. Keep it COOL! West Nile Virus causes high fever so the bird must be kept in a cool place Contact Valley Wildlife Care or your closest licensed wildlife rehabilitator. Ask them if they are treating the sick birds. Many rehabilitators have a euthanasia policy for West Nile Virus infected birds.

Symptoms of infected crows:

Since WNV causes swelling of the brain and attacks the nervous system, birds infected generally appear “confused” “disoriented” “weak on the legs” “inable to stand” “stumbling” or “leaning to one side”

Why Birds?

Wild birds are the animals from which the mosquito vector primarily acquires the virus. Infection has been reported in more than 100 bird species. Although many birds that are infected with WNV will not appear ill, WNV infection can cause serious illness and death in some birds. The most severe illnesses are seen the corvids, which include crows, jays, ravens, and magpies. American crows constitute the majority of birds reported dead due to WNV.

What To Do When You Find a Dead Bird

Contact LA County Vector Control ASAP   http://www.glacvcd.org  if they are no longer taking dead birds in your area, please dispose of it as follows: (1) Wear plastic or latex gloves or use a plastic bag as a glove 
(2) With your gloved hand, place or wrap the bird in a plastic bag and tie the bag securely (alternatively, a shovel may be used to pick up bird) 
(3) Dispose of the bag (and gloves) in an outdoor trash receptacle, and
(4) Wash your hands with soap and water.

Do not be frightened when attempting to rescue a sick bird. They have not spread the virus to people, as far as we know. Precautions should be taken to avoid exposure to the feces or saliva, but don’t let that stop you from rescuing the bird. It is a mosquito born virus and is carried by mosquitoes.  Mosquitoes bite people, dogs, cats, and other pets. All of the above have immunity to the virus and only one in one hundred and fifty people who are infected will actually know!

Crows have no immunity to the fight the virus which makes them the most recognized hosts.  They can transmit the virus ONLY if a mosquito feeds off of them and on to another bird. This is why it’s so important to get them off the streets!  This is where we come in. We help them by providing critical care in hopes that they will be able to fight the virus and pull through.