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Alligators May Transmit West Nile Virus
Not exactly dinos. However, it addresses a raised eyebrow or two I'd had
about the Jurassic Park book/movie(s) about insects biting dinosaurs.
Sunday, Aug. 3, 2003
GAINESVILLE (AP) - Alligators might be as effective as birds at
transmitting the West Nile virus, University of Florida scientists said.
The virus is spread by mosquitoes, which transmit it from infected birds.
But researchers found levels of the virus in alligators that are as high
as amounts in birds, which means the reptiles can likely pass on the
infection to other animals, said Elliot Jacobson, an expert in reptile
disease at the university.
The findings come from a study of about 300 captive alligators that died
last year in Christmas. Necropsies showed the alligators had viral loads
of West Nile that were high enough to infect mosquitoes.
The alligators were probably infected initially by mosquitoes, which bite
the alligators soft eyelids, tongues and mouths, Jacobson said. Then the
gators spread the virus among themselves through water in their holding
Still, this sorta conjures up an image of a poor dinosaur's head enveloped
in a cloud of biting insects if that was about the only place where they
could bite. That, or the skeeters back then were as big as sparrows...