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Catching the West Nile virus in action
Date:7/24/2011

Tel Aviv Since 1999, several outbreaks of West Nile Virus, which causes fever or severe neurological symptoms and is transmitted from birds to humans by blood-sucking mosquitoes, have been seen in the U.S., usually during the summer months. But researchers aren't certain how the virus migrated here and they don't know how, or where, it will appear next.

Now Prof. Ella Mendelson of Tel Aviv University's School of Public Health at the Sackler Faculty of Medicine, working with the Israeli Ministries of Health and Environment, has instituted a study that tracks both clinical cases of West Nile Virus and populations of infected mosquitoes. By examining the outbreaks and testing samples of the mosquito populations from high-risk areas (such as those near large bodies of water), her method can identify "danger zones" and produce timely warnings of impending outbreaks. And by providing more information on the dynamics and mobility of the virus, it could also solve the mystery of how the virus migrates.

The research appears in the journal Eurosurveillance.

Don't forget the repellant

The virus, which was first recorded in the 1930's and is believed to have originated in Egypt, is now spreading across the globe to non-traditional climates such as Western Europe and North America, says Prof. Mendelson. She and her fellow researchers at the Central Virology Laboratory are geographically tracking the virus, recording where it originates, the genetic types of the virus that are circulated, and the dynamics of infection. They analyze both the occurrences of outbreaks among the human population, as well as the virus' appearance in the mosquito population.

First, mosquitoes are collected from different areas known to be hotbeds of the virus throughout a given country. The females are identified and tested for the presence of the virus, giving researchers information not only on the location of the virus, but the type
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Contact: George Hunka
ghunka@aftau.org
212-742-9070
American Friends of Tel Aviv University
Source:Eurekalert

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