SALT LAKE CITY: According to the wildlife officials of Utah, the count of dead bald eagles from West Nile Virus has reached to 40, on Monday and five others are being treated in wildlife rehabilitation center.
The birds in northern and central Utah were found dying since Dec. 1, due to similar “mystery illness” showing symptoms like head tremors, signs of weakness in legs and feet and paralysis. All were either dead or were ill and later died during treatment.
About 750 to 1,200 bald eagles begin migrating to Utah each November and stay until March. They reason behind the mystery illness was not confirmed till the test reports came. According to Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) the testing indicates that the animals contracted West Nile by eating dead aquatic birds that were infected with the disease and died later. The mosquitoes are the carrier of the West Nile Virus, and they usually infects eagles and other birds in warmer months.
The officials were initially not ready to identify the mosquito-borne virus as the convict as it has never been reported till now in the year. Eared Grebes, an aquatic bird and a look alike of duck, started moving to Utah in October, when mosquitoes were still active. It is considered that the afflicted bald eagles had consumed dead eared grebes on the Great Salt Lake.
The Health officials confirms that people and domestic livestock are not in danger due to the outbreak because the disease is almost always transmitted by a mosquito bite. Also the reports of sick eagles are now less in number.
“I think we may be done seeing sick birds,” said Leslie McFarlane, wildlife disease specialist with the Utah DWR. “It seems that everything coming in now is dead so I believe that we are not actively transmitting any more.”