West Nile Virus confirmed in Saginaw Co. domestic bird

SAGINAW CO., Mich. (WNEM) – Michigan’s first case of West Nile Virus (WNV) in a domestic animal has been confirmed in Saginaw County, according to the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD).

The animal is a 2-month-old sun parakeet. MDARD said the detection of the West Nile Virus highlights the importance for residents 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,” State Veterinarian Dr. Nora Wineland said. “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.”

MDARD said even though WNV is typically spread between birds and mosquitoes, infected 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.

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, MDARD said.

Mosquitos that carry WNV will remain alive and active until there has been at least one hard freeze where 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.

To prevent the occurrence of WNV in animals, owners can:

  • Eliminate standing water on the property.
  • Talk to a veterinarian about vaccinating horses against WNV and other mosquito-borne diseases.
  • Place livestock in a barn under fans (as mosquitoes are not strong flyers) and pets inside the home during peak mosquito activity from dusk to dawn.
  • Use an insect repellent on animals that is approved for the species.
  • Contact a veterinarian if an animal shows signs of illness.

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