Thursday, December 11, 2003

West Nile Virus may have felled Alexander the Great

" 'When [Alexander] arrived before the walls of [Babylon],' Plutarch recorded, 'he saw a large number of ravens flying about and pecking one another, and some of them fell dead in front of him.'
The ravens might have been dying of West Nile virus infection, the researchers suggest. Ravens belong to a family of birds that are particularly susceptible to the pathogen - members of the same family are responsible for the virus' spread across the United States. "

"Epidemiologist John Marr of the Virginia Department of Health in Richmond and infectious-disease expert Charles Calisher of Colorado State University in Fort Collins suggest that the virus may finally have toppled Alexander the Great."