EEE kills 3 cassowary birds at Va. Zoo

Cassowary chicks, photo provided by the Virginia Zoo.

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – The Virginia Zoo announced Wednesday three young cassowary chicks died from Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE).

According to the Zoo, two of the 28-day-old chicks were found dead on the morning of July 17 and a third died later that day. The Zoo said one of the parent birds also died, but test results have not yet been completed.

A remaining male cassowary at the Virginia Zoo, along with chicks. (Photo credit: Alex Zelazo-Kessler)
A remaining male cassowary at the Virginia Zoo, along with chicks. (Photo credit: Alex Zelazo-Kessler)

Tests were performed when the rare birds died, and EEE was confirmed as the cause of death on Aug. 4. The Zoo described EEE as a mosquito-borne viral infection that can be fatal in both humans and animals. The deaths of the birds were reported to the relevant agencies.

The Norfolk Department of Health reported there were no EEE positives in any of the mosquito pools or sentinel chickens in Norfolk, according to a news release from the Zoo.

The Zoo said there have been no published cases of cassowary deaths resulting from EEE, and there is no bird-specific vaccine for the virus. There is an equine vaccine, and the Zoo said their remaining cassowaries were vaccinated.

The Virginia Department of Health recommends these tips to reduce mosquito exposure:

  • Wear long, loose and light-colored clothing.
  • If possible, limit outdoor exposure between dusk and dawn.
  • Use insect repellants with DEET according to the manufacturer’s directions.
  • Turn over or remove containers in your yard where water collects, such as old tires, potted plant trays, buckets and toys.
  • Eliminate standing water on tarps or flat roofs.
  • Clean out birdbaths, wading pools and swimming pools.
  • Clean roof gutters and downspout screens

For information about mosquito control, call the Vector Control Division at 757-683-2840, weekdays from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

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