West Nile less a threat in cities?
A study from UGA’s Odom School of Ecology shows that the West Nile Virus spreads more slowly into highly developed areas that are not as hospitable to the wildlife that carries and transmits the disease. Until now the virus was thought to travel at a steady or increasing rate, but using a mathematical model showing a link between the land cover patterns of New York City and the spread of the virus, researchers found that outbreaks slowed before reaching the edge of New York City. The team’s findings, published in the journal PLoS Computational Biology, show a pattern of deceleration that has not been described before and could help public health officials more efficiently target disease control efforts. West Nile virus, one of the most widespread vector-borne diseases in North America, first appeared in New York City in 1999. It is carried by birds and transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. It can cause symptoms ranging in severity from a mild fever to encephalitis and meningitis and has caused more than 1,200 fatalities in the U.S. since 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.