Will Chickens Save Us From The West Nile Virus?

The West Nile Virus has been lurking in the shadows for years now, no longer the news it once was. Until this year that is. This year there has been a serious increase of occurrences with 658 severe incidents so far and 49 deaths.

West Nile only seriously affects 2 out the 10 people infected. Primarily the young and the old. The symptoms are similar to the flu. The Virus has killed 2000 people so far. Sadly it is not attracting a lot of attention since the Zika scare.

Chickens are helping to show us where there are higher concentrations of West Nile. Many Birds die from the virus but chickens are immune. There are mosquito traps out in efforts to find the virus as well but Chickens are easier. Health Officials test their blood for the virus. What they do is position chicken coops in different areas to try and track down where the infectious mosquitoes are. Through the use of the chicken trackers, health officials can map out the spread of the active Virus.

Health Officials warn that it is preventable just wear bug spray, use window screens and pour out any stagnant water that you see. Prevent further creation of mosquitoes. They have gone all out this year and even created a Rap Video to help people remember.

Watch the Video below


Los Angeles County public health officials credit the vector control district with keeping the outbreak from being far worse. But for Kluh and her team, every West Nile death is difficult.

“It’s hard,” Kluh said. “We take it really personally.”

This month, 84-year-old Julia Shepherd, an active grandmother from a Los Angeles suburb, died of West Nile after becoming paralyzed and disoriented.

The case is exactly the type public health officials fear, one that robs healthy older adults — those most likely to be outdoors — of either their lives or their independence. Some half of older adults who have been infected with neurological symptoms have still not recovered their ability to function independently after a year, Schwartz said.

While they’re focused on West Nile, which is transmitted by Culex mosquitoes, Kluh and her team do still monitor the spread of Aedes aegypti, which can transmit Zika. She’s also tracking Aedes albopictus, the Asian tiger mosquito that’s a carrier of dengue and chikungunya. And she’s got her eye on the newly arrived Aussie Mozzie mosquito — Aedes notoscriptus — that transmits yet other viruses.

“I guess I’ve got job security,” she joked.

Kluh sees a silver lining in the invasion of these aggressive new species. Unlike California’s resident Culex mosquitoes, the newcomers bite humans more than birds, bite all day long, and tend to raise welts that are itchier and more noticeable. Because of this, many people here are finally starting to complain about mosquitoes — and that’s music to Kluh’s ears.

“Because it’s so unpleasant,” she said, “people might finally start protecting themselves from getting bitten.”

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