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Geneticists at the American Museum of Natural History trace the evolution of St. Louis encephalitis
Date:5/15/2008

by the Culex mosquito after the virus exploded into a new continent. To time this event, researchers again turned to the genomic code: by determining the rate of mutation in the virus, Perkins found that the division between the South and North American strains happened about 116 years ago. St. Louis encephalitis is a perfect storm between infected bird hosts coming into a new area and the mosquito vectors transferring the virus to humans, says Perkins. It is the North American version of West Nile.

St. Louis encephalitis is currently found throughout the United States, and, according to the Centers for Disease Control, there were 4,651 cases between 1964 and 2005. Symptoms range from a mild headache to high fever and tremors. Mortality is between 5 and 30% and is higher among the elderly.


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Contact: Kristin Phillips
kphillips@amnh.org
212-496-3419
American Museum of Natural History
Source:Eurekalert

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