In the war on mosquitoes and the West Nile virus, a recent study has given scientists and doctors some new weapons.
The study says that weather, geography, and history are the three ingredients to predicting the future of the West Nile virus. The study is based on information gathered in Dallas County last year. Dallas County was hit the hardest during the 2012 West Nile epidemic. By this time last year Texas had seen nearly five hundred cases of West Nile virus, but this year, that number is down to just two.
"They wanted to look at this data and find out if they can predict where the West Nile virus will be and how it behaves," says Biology Chairman at UT Tyler Dr. Srini Kambhampati.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, says a warmer winter causes more mosquitoes in the summer. By looking at where outbreaks happened last year, scientists say they can project if the same area will experience an outbreak again.
“If you have a large number of cases then that gives you an opportunity to make some predictions,” says Kambhampati.
When the amount of infected mosquitoes increases, local health departments are advised to act quickly. According to Bob Gardner, a mosquito control supervisor, departments in East Texas already have. For example, the City of Tyler is using mosquito briquettes that emit a pesticide and fogging city streets with repellent.
More than one hundred mosquitoes can be breed in the cap of a water bottle- that is equal to about one tablespoon. It is breeding grounds like this that health departments are looking to eliminate. The first indicator of an outbreak is when more infected mosquitoes are found.
"From the time they're born to the time they're gone, mosquitoes don't travel very far," says Gardner.
The large outbreak last year has helped lead scientists to a scientific breakthrough this year. Scientist can now predict mosquito population based on geographic location.
The authors of the study also found that West Nile cases often cluster in neighborhoods with particular characteristics. Those neighborhoods with higher density housing, less forested areas, more unoccupied houses, older populations, and higher property values are more prone to West Nile outbreaks.
Friday, August 22 2014 3:11 PM EDT2014-08-22 19:11:37 GMT
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