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 of the virus as well. In Israel, the information is then relayed to the Ministries of Health and of the Environment so they can keep abreast of the situation and inform the public when necessary. "It's important to ensure that local authorities take preventative anti-mosquito measures where they can," says Prof. Mendelson.
Keeping the blood banks safe
More recently, says Prof. Mendelson, the researchers have been expanding their interest to include ensuring the safety of donated blood. In connection with the Central Blood Bank in Israel, Prof. Mendelson and her fellow researchers have been testing blood donated to the bank for signs of West Nile Virus.
"We evaluate the blood to see if there is a frequency of donations that might carry the virus," she says, noting that it is important for public health to be involved. A broad approach to West Nile Virus awareness and safety can be a model for nations which have just begun to contend with outbreaks of the virus in recent years.
When this approach is adopted by other key countries, it will be possible to track West Nile Virus on a global scale. Prof. Mendelson notes that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. She urges precaution during the evening hours, the mosquitoes' most active time of day. Wear long sleeves and use plenty of bug repellant, she counsels.
George Hunka | EurekAlert!
Discovery of a Key Regulatory Gene in Cardiac Valve Formation
24.05.2017 | Universität Basel
Carcinogenic soot particles from GDI engines
24.05.2017 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt
Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.
The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....
An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.
We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.
In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...
24.05.2017 | Event News
23.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Event News
24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
24.05.2017 | Event News