It may still be winter, but the United States is already girding for a resurgence of human West Nile virus infections. This year, the sentinels for the advent of West Nile season will be not only dead crows on city streets or in suburban backyards, but animals at zoos nationwide, thanks to a program that is the brainchild of veterinary pathologist Tracey McNamara of the Wildlife Conservation Society, Bronx, NY. McNamara, who, in 1999, first realized that the dead birds found on the grounds of the Bronx and Queens Zoos were related to the encephalitis reported in patients in New York City hospitals—and that both were caused by a virus never before seen in the United States—wants zoos and aquariums to work together with public health departments.

Zoos have joined together as part of the National Zoological West Nile Virus Surveillance Working Group, funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease...

Interested in reading more?

Magaizne Cover

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?