Unclear if Zoo Atlanta bird had West Nile Virus

A Blue Crane that died tested positive for the West Nile Virus, but the vaccination the bird received could have altered the blood test, Zoo Atlanta said Tuesday.

“Blood tests indicated that the bird had a positive titer for WNV,” Hayley Murphy, the zoo’s director of veterinary services, said in an emailed statement. “However, this bird had been vaccinated against WNV, so we cannot be sure that the elevated titer does not reflect vaccination protection.”

Titer is the term used in expressing concentration.

Because birds are more susceptible to complications from the virus, they are routinely tested at the zoo, Murphy said. Two ducks which exhibited possible signs of West Nile were recently tested, but both were negative for having the virus, she said.

Spread most often by infected mosquitoes, the West Nile Virus first appeared in the U.S. in 1999 and is potentially serious, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 80 percent of people infected with WNV will not have any symptoms, the CDC states on its website.