West Nile Virus Alert
- New Mexico Department of Health Website - WNV in New Mexico, reporting dead crows, ravens, jays (only from counties where WNV is not yet known to occur), precautions for homeowners, general facts about WNV visit http://www.health.state.nm.us/wnv.html
- Health Departments of Surrounding States
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - WNV in the United States, text andmaps, precautions for hunters at http://www.cdc.gov/
- Information on West Nile Virus - Carol Sutherland, New Mexico state entomologist. Also see, Extension Health Specialist, Bruce Jacobs' West Nile Virus: Information for New Mexico.
West Nile Virus (WNV) is a pathogen "on the move" westward across the United States. First identified in New York City in 1999, WNV has since been confirmed in over 40 U.S. states, four provinces of southern Canada and at least one state in Mexico. In New Mexico, WNV was confirmed in sick horses in Quay and Curry Counties on August 22, 2002; new county records have been added since then. The pathogen is expected to spread across the state.
Certain species of mosquitoes feed on the blood of WNV infected hosts. Only a few of these mosquitoes become infected with WNV. During subsequent blood meals, the infected mosquitoes may pass the virus to humans, horses and their relatives, and birds. While few humans are seriously affected by the virus, those with impaired immune systems are at greatest risk for complications, particularly encephalitis. This brain infection can be fatal. While no vaccine against WNV is available for humans, veterinarians have a vaccine for horses and their relatives. However, proper use of the vaccine requires more than one injection, and immunity in horses is achieved 4-6 weeks after vaccination. Unvaccinated horses often develop fatal encephalitis after WNV infection. Crows, ravens and jays apparently are defenseless against West Nile, suffering nearly 100% mortality. The pathogen is expected to become widespread in New Mexico and other western states.
New Mexicans are advised to eliminate or appropriately treat stagnant water on their properties and avoid contacts with mosquitoes. Horses should be vaccinated for WNV. Recently dead crows, ravens and jays may signal establishment of WNV in new areas. An "800" telephone number for reporting such specimens to the NM Department of Health is available.