Three more birds at zoo die of virus

Wednesday, August 21, 2002

ST. LOUIS -- Three more birds at the St. Louis Zoo have died from the West Nile virus, and about 20 other sick or dead birds were also being tested for the disease, zoo director Bill Boever said Tuesday.

Lab tests confirmed that a yellow-billed duck, a hooded crow and an Inca tern all died of West Nile, zoo spokeswoman Christy Childs said. In July, a black North American crow housed at the Children's Zoo died of West Nile.

Meanwhile, lab results were pending on about 20 other birds -- some of which died mysteriously, others that appeared ill or disoriented, Boever said.

"It is something that is alarming, but is something we deal with all the time," Boever said. "Any disease outbreak, we try to protect our collection. When something new like this comes along, it's a bit of a concern."

Boever said that the zoo has been expecting an outbreak since the virus first appeared in New York in 1999. He said zoo officials have been able to learn from other zoos as the virus has moved westward.

Birds and equine are most susceptible to West Nile. Other animals can get the virus but it apparently doesn't make them sick, Boever said.

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