Topeka West Nile virus has been confirmed as the cause of death of a golden eagle at the Topeka Zoo.
Zoo Director Mike Coker reported Thursday the eagle and a great horned owl died the day before and were sent to Kansas State University to be tested for West Nile.
Coker said Friday that the test on the eagle showed the virus had been the cause of death. Test results on the owl were pending.
He said the two birds weren't in the same or adjacent enclosures and weren't believed to have been in direct contact with each other.
Meanwhile, the Department of Health and Environment added six counties to its list of those where the virus had appeared, bringing the total to 41 of the 105 counties in Kansas. The additional counties are Cheyenne, Ellis, Geary, Gove, Greenwood and Russell.
The disease is transmitted when a mosquito bites an infected bird and then bites another animal or person. No case of West Nile in humans has been reported in Kansas. A vaccine is available for horses.
Most people bitten by an infected mosquito never get sick, and most of the rest see only flu-like symptoms. A small percentage of people contract encephalitis, a potentially fatal infection of the brain.
The virus is most dangerous for children, the elderly and people with weak immune systems.
In each of the new counties in which the disease was reported, a horse was found to be carrying the virus.