Rare virus detected in dead bird in the animal park Poing

The West Nile virus was detected by a dead bird in the Poing Wildlife Park. It is the third case in Germany.

Poing – The employees in Wildpark Poing in the Ebersberg district are not yet back on the agenda. On Thursday, the West Nile virus was detected in a dead owl. The third case in Germany, the first in Bavaria.

"Although we assume that our little owl is an isolated case," veterinarian Sandra Klimm emphasized Friday. However, mosquitoes in the zoo must be examined. Through them the virus is transferred – on birds, as in the present case, but also in humans or horses, transmission is possible. All dead wild birds found must also be examined for the virus, Klimm explained.

West Nile Virus: So far no known infection of humans or horses

So far no infection of humans or horses with the virus has been known in Germany. This does not necessarily mean that there has been no question. Because: the virus is not dangerous. "In 80 percent of cases there are not even symptoms of infection," emphasizes Munich-based specialist in tropical medicine Markus Frühwein. "In the remaining 20 percent there are flu-like symptoms." For all people who have not had previous illnesses or whose immune system is not weak, there is no danger. The disease rarely ends fatally.

In South and Southeastern Europe there is a particularly strong wave of infection this season. In Greece, considerably more people were infected this year than in Germany. 180 cases are known, 22 people died. "Most people who die of meningitis have already existing disorders," explains the tropical doctor. "For them, a common flu is dangerous."

Markus Frühwein, tropical medicine


The virus was first discovered in 1937 by a woman in the West Nile province, Uganda. In the nineties it came via wild birds in the United States, a little later to Europe. However, early wine does not assume that things will arise in Germany. "There should be a lot of coincidences," he says. There are also the right mosquito species that transmit the virus. The climatic conditions are not optimal, however, it is too cool.

Infections due to blood transfusion are very rare, he explains. Nonetheless, Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit of the Bernhard Nocht Institute of Tropical Medicine thinks it logical that potential blood donors will be tested for the virus in the future. So far this is not the case. He also advises that the employees of the Wildpark Poing be investigated.

If someone discovers that he has the virus, doctors have no choice but to treat the symptoms as flu. There is no vaccine against West Nile fever yet, he reports. "They are still under development." However, people are building antibodies against the virus in an infection. An infection is therefore rare – a multiple infection almost impossible. "There's really nothing to worry about," Frühwein emphasizes, adding: "If I had the choice between an ordinary flu and the infection with the West Nile virus, I would probably choose the virus."

KWO / mdl