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West Nile Virus Transmission May Shift Due to Climate Change

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Mosquito-borne diseases rely on their vector for transmission among humans. Environmental temperature is one of the key factors that influence fecundity, development, biting rate on hosts, and mortality, determining whether vectors are present in sufficient numbers for transmission. A new study models the effects of temperature on a suite of widespread mosquito vectors and viruses that currently lack complete temperature-dependent models. The new model suggests that West Nile virus spreads most efficiently in the United States at a very moderate 24–25°C (75.2–77°F) and that climate change may increase the areas in the United States with optimal temperatures for West Nile virus transmission.

The work is published in eLife in a paper titled, “ Transmission of West Nile and five other temperate mosquito-borne viruses peaks at temperatures between 23°C and 26°C.”

“As the climate warms, it is critical to understand how temperature changes will affect the transmission of mosquito-borne diseases,” said lead author Marta Shocket, PhD, who was a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University at the time the study was carried out, and is now a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Los Angeles.

To do this, Shocket and her colleagues developed models to assess the impact of temperature on six […]

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