Kunjin/West Nile Virus ­ First Time in Western Hemisphere

October 12, 1999  New York City, N. Y. ­ Starting back around July 1999, residents in Queens, New York began calling their city's wildlife office to report various types of birds on the ground shaking, wobbling and disoriented. Then crows at the Bronx Zoo and surrounding areas kept dying. Dozens of them. Pathology tests showed mysterious lesions in the brains and hearts.

By August, doctors in New York's Flushing Hospital were seeing an increasing number of people with fever, mental confusion and severe weakness. The combination of symptoms was confusing because usually in cases of encephalitis, which is an inflammation of brain tissue, patients hallucinate, are out of control and sometimes have seizures. These new patients were disoriented, but were so weak they could not move.

 

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