General information

The virus is transmitted by blood-sucking insects. Susceptible dead-end hosts are horses and humans; birds can become infected and serve as the disease reservoir, thus possibly transferring the virus over long distances. However, some avian species, such as crows, are very sensitive and quickly die from the infection. Infected horses show symptoms of encephalitis, but also ataxia, tremors and seizures as well as paralysis. The mortality rate in infected horses is about 30%.

In birds and horses, an infection with West Nile virus is a notifiable disease in Germany.