Study: Birds may help keep West Nile from humans

Tuesday, October 7, 2008 | 5:13 p.m. CDT

ST. LOUIS — The greater the variety of birds in an area, the less likely that humans around them will be exposed to West Nile Virus. That's according to a new study by biologists in St. Louis.

Researchers at Washington University looked at the sometimes-deadly mosquito-borne illness. Their findings will be published in an issue of the Scandinavian ecology journal Oecologia.

Researcher Brian Allan said the bottom line is that when there are more bird species in your backyard, you have much lower risk of contracting West Nile.

Through Sept. 30, 918 cases of West Nile had been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including 19 deaths. But cases have been on the decline in Missouri, with just eight confirmed so far this year and no fatalities.

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