The rapid spread of West Nile virus in North America over the past decade is likely to have long-lasting ecological consequences throughout the continent, according to an article in the November issue of BioScience, the journal of theAmerican Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS).
The mosquito-borne virus, which was little known before its emergence in New York in 1999, has since been found in all 48 contiguous states.
West Nile virus has killed hundreds of millions of birds and more than 1,000 people in
LaDeau and colleagues emphasize that research has yet to provide a clear picture of why species vary in their vulnerability to infection by the virus and in their probability of transmitting it, via mosquitoes, to other animals. For humans, living close to vegetation cover within a city appears to increase the risk of infection, but scientists still have much to learn about how temperature, precipitation, and changing landscapes interact in fostering outbreaks. Research on how these factors affect susceptible wildlife and mosquitoes could lead to better predictions and possibly public warnings and expanded mosquito abatement programs in vulnerable areas.
American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS)