Hotter climate may deliver extra West Nile virus to the US


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TUESDAY, September 29, 2020

Climate change could give the West Nile virus a boost in some areas of the United States but reduce its spread in other regions, according to a new study.

The mosquito-borne virus spreads most efficiently in the United States at temperatures between 75.2 and 77 degrees Fahrenheit. This is according to a study published on September 15 in eLife magazine.

“As the climate warms, it’s important to understand how changes in temperature affect the transmission of mosquito-borne diseases,” lead author Marta Shocket said in a press release in a magazine. She did the research at Stanford University and is now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California at Los Angeles.

Shocket and colleagues conducted laboratory experiments to determine how temperature affects the West Nile. They found that it is easiest to transfer at moderate temperatures.

The results suggest that West Nile in the US could take a bigger toll as temperatures rise due to climate change, according to Shocket.

She stated that 70% of Americans live in areas currently below the optimal summer temperature for the West Nile to spread, but are likely to have increased transmission with global warming.

Approximately 30% of the US population live where summer temperatures are above optimal, which means that transmission is likely to decrease with global warming.

According to the researchers, increases in temperature caused by climate change could extend the transmission times for viruses earlier in spring and later in autumn.

“Climate change is poised to increase transmission of West Nile and other mosquito-borne viruses across much of the United States,” said study’s senior author Erin Mordecai, assistant professor of biology at Stanford University.

“However, these diseases also depend on human contact with mosquitoes that come into contact with wild animals. Therefore, factors such as human land use, mosquito control, the adaptation of mosquitoes and viruses, and the appearance of new viruses predict the future of mosquitos transmitted diseases become a challenge. ” Mordecai added in the release.

– Robert Preidt

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SOURCE: eLife, press release, September 15, 2020.

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