Mosquito virus takes out giant mammal

A KILLER whale that died suddenly at a US marine park had caught a virus commonly associated with humans and transmitted by mosquitoes, in the first recorded case of its kind.

The whale died in 2007 and tests revealed lung lesions and other signs consistent with West Nile Virus (WNV) infection – most likely the result of a mosquito bite, as the giant mammal was “loafing” at the surface of its tank.

“We demonstrate that West Nile Virus can infect and cause disease in killer whales... biologists and veterinarians working with cetaceans should consider this a possibility,” researchers said.

Emerg Infect Dis 2011;17:1531