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Michigan confirms West Nile virus in Saginaw County domestic bird

Christian Fernsby |
The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development is reporting Michigan’s first case of West Nile virus (WNV) in a domestic animal.

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The case occurred in a two-month-old sun conure (sun parakeet) from Saginaw County. This detection highlights the importance for Michiganders to continue taking precautions to protect their animals and themselves from mosquito bites.

“While seeing WNV in a parakeet is uncommon, it is not unexpected as this disease typically circulates between birds and mosquitoes,” said State Veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland.

“When birds are housed outdoors (as was the case in this situation), they are exposed to mosquitoes and the diseases these insects could be carrying. The best way to protect birds and other domestic animal species from WNV is to take steps to safeguard them from mosquitoes."

Even though WNV typically circulates between birds and mosquitoes, mosquitoes can also transmit the disease to people and other animals, especially horses. In Michigan, the disease is usually seen every summer through early fall. The virus is spread through bites from an infected mosquito.

So far this year, nine wild birds from Bay, Macomb, Saginaw, Shiawassee, and Wayne counties and 54 mosquito pools from Arenac, Bay, Genesee, Gladwin, Huron, Iosco, Kent, Macomb, Midland, Oakland, Saginaw, and Wayne counties have tested positive for WNV.

Despite the cooler temperatures being experienced around the state, the mosquitoes that carry WNV will remain alive and active until there has been at least one hard freeze where the temperatures fall below 28 degrees Fahrenheit.

Keeping pet birds indoors will minimize their potential contact with mosquitoes and help them stay healthy. There is no approved vaccine against WNV for birds.


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