There is a heated controversy in T-Town over whether West Nile Virus (WNV) was transmitted to Forest Lake residents by water fowl.
Jason Morton in the Tuscaloosa News wrote:
After reports of Forest Lake residents contracting West Nile virus, Tuscaloosa officials are looking for ways to reduce the threat of mosquito-borne illnesses citywide.
In 2017, three residents who live on or near Forest Lake were diagnosed with the virus that is typically transmitted from birds to humans via mosquitoes.
There is no definitive proof, but some suspect the infiltration of Canada geese that began arriving at the private neighborhood lake after the April 27, 2011, tornado led to the West Nile infections.
Many people in T-Town are as excited about the potential euthanasia of allegedly infected birds that swim in the lake as they would be over a National Championship win by the Crimson Tide.
“How can I tell if a sick bird has West Nile Virus?” in the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Bird’s reports:
The disease is spread by mosquitoes, and can affect not only birds but humans as well, usually causing flu-like symptoms. Birds with visible symptoms of West Nile virus often die within a few days. Affected birds will often be fluffed out and stay low to the ground, or seem off balance and unable to stand.
Because West Nile virus affects birds, public health officials look for cases of sick and dead birds as an early warning that an outbreak may begin. Monitoring the disease in bird populations is an important way of tracking the disease.
Thus far no water fowl at Forest Lake have been tested to determine if there is any infection. The only two dead birds found were victims of being hit by cars.
One Tuscaloosa resident has suggested that T-Town instigate a Sentinel-Chicken-Program. Eryn Brown in the Los Angeles Times wrote:
Chickens make perfect sentinels because they don’t get sick from West Nile virus, Kluh said, and never develop high enough levels of the virus in their blood to give the disease back to mosquitoes, which in turn might fly off and bite people or horses.
The chickens also give disease control workers a better idea of where infected mosquitoes are nesting. Because wild birds and people circulate freely, it is hard to know where they were when they were bitten. But sentinel chickens are infection-free when they arrive at their coop and remain in place. If they test positive for West Nile, vector control workers know to examine the nearby area for mosquito breeding locations.
Mobile, Alabama uses chickens for mosquito borne disease detection. The Mobile County Health Department in 2017 released this information to the media:
Tubbs said. “What we’re looking at moving forward is modifying and enhancing our mosquito control methods.”
‒ More frequent or targeted spraying measures
‒ Treatment of standing water to reduce or eliminate mosquito larvae.