Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Global warming trends contribute to the spread of West Nile Virus to new regions in Europe

Newswise via the University of Haifa: Global warming trends have a significant influence on the spread of West Nile Virus to new regions in Europe and neighboring countries, where the disease wasn’t present before, according to a new study by the University of Haifa. The study was commissioned by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) in Stockholm, which belongs to the European Union. The study found that rising temperatures have a more considerable contribution than humidity, to the spread of the disease, while the effect of rain was inconclusive.

“These results are an additional testament that global warming contributes to the outbreak of mosquito-borne and other temperature-sensitive vector-borne diseases. The indications to this are piling up in different parts around the globe”, says Dr. Shlomit Paz, who led this research. These findings were recently published in the online scientific journal, “Plos One”.

West Nile Virus is spread by mosquitoes that repeatedly bite infected birds. The potential threat the infection poses to man is the possibility of causing irreversible brain damage or even death through encephalitis or meningitis. The elderly and people with weak immune systems are most susceptible.

...The current study examined the link between daily temperature, humidity and precipitation data and West Nile incidence in Europe and neighboring countries. “We used statistical tools and found that as a result of heat waves, a dramatic increase in the number of cases resulted from increased activity of the virus and a growth of the mosquito population”, claims Paz. According to her, these results were seen in various countries....

A CDC electron micrograph of the West Nile virus


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