West Nile Virus was first documented in Connecticut and North America in 1999. The mosquito-borne disease has spread throughout the continent, meanwhile killing millions of birds as it spread. American Crow, Common Raven, and Blue Jay were the first birds observed dying in Connecticut. Fortunately, these populations were able to recover since then, but many other bird species have not faired as well, including Purple Finch and Tufted Titmouse. A brief article that outlines the major findings of this paper can be found here.
The original publication is an important examination of how emerging infectious diseases are impacting and will continue to impact many bird species. This lesson is not a new one for us in Connecticut. We've observed how White Nose Syndrome has severely decimated several bat species that were regarded to as common a decade ago. We are learning about new pathogens that are spreading around the world and could have devistating impacts to very important species we conserve. Our best course of action for the long-term conservation of our natural resources is to prevent the introduction of these pathogens and pests from entering the continent.