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Is West Nile virus coming to your town?

Since its introduction to the U.S. in 1999, West Nile virus has spread rapidly across North America, threatening wildlife populations and posing a serious...

How Mosquitoes Are Drawn to Human Skin and Breath

Female mosquitoes, which can transmit deadly diseases like malaria, dengue fever, West Nile virus and filariasis, are attracted to us by smelling the carbon...
Breast cancer vaccine

Bird vaccine for West Nile Virus

University of British Columbia researchers have developed a vaccine that may halt the spread of West Nile Virus (WNV) among common and endangered bird...

Invisible invasive species

EAST LANSING, Mich. --- While Asian carp, gypsy moths and zebra mussels hog invasive-species headlines, many invisible invaders are altering ecosystems and flourishing outside of the limelight. A study by Elena Litchman, Michigan State University ...

UF expert: Biodiversity loss correlates with increases in infectious disease

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Habitat destruction and species extinction may lead to an increase in diseases that infect humans and other species, according to a paper in the journal Nature co-authored by a University of Florida ecologist. In the paper t...

Antibody locks up West Nile’s infection mechanism

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Researchers have learned the structure that results when an antibody binds to the West Nile virus, neutralizing the virus by locking up its infection mechanism. The information could help scientists develop a vaccine against t...

Antibodies critical for fighting West Nile Virus infection

Researchers have found that immune cells called B cells and the antibodies they produce play a critical early role in defending the body against West Nile Virus. The results are published in the February issue of the Journal of Virology. Mice that lacked B cells and antibodies were completely unable to combat the virus. They developed serious brain and spinal-cord infection and ultimately died.

Senator seeks terrorist-virus probe

Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy has urged the government to explore a possibile terrorist link to an outbreak of West Nile virus that has killed 54 people this year. "I think we have to ask ourselves: Is it coincidence that we're seeing such an increase in West Nile virus or is that something that's being tested as a biological weapon against us?" said Leahy, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee. Leahy's office was one of several to receive anthrax-laden envelopes last year, the Associated Press reports. Leahy said he could point to no specific evidence that the outbreak of the mosquito-borne virus was linked to terrorism, and a spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there is no evidence to suggest an act of bioterrorism. Nearly 1,300 people in the U.S. have so far contracted West Nile. "In the times in which we live, questions about our vulnerabilities are unavoidable," the Vermont senator said in a written statement. "Finding all the answers we can is more important than ever."

West Nile heads west

A Los Angeles County woman has tested positive for West Nile virus in what is likely to be the first case of a person contracting the illness west of the Rockies, state health officials said today. Today's preliminary results are expected to be confirmed by further tests next week. The unidentified woman, who is being treated for meningitis, had not traveled outside the region, which would indicate that the infection, if confirmed, occurred locally. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 43 people have died so far this year from the disease, which is spread by mosquitos (or possibly through organ transplants).

Avoid skeeter bites, says CDC

In response to outbreaks of West Nile virus throughout the eastern U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has pointed out that the best way to avoid infection is to avoid mosquito bites. West Nile virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito, and in addition to humans can infect horses, many species of birds, and some other animals. Fortunately, most people who become infected with West Nile virus will have either no symptoms or mild ones. But on rare occasions, infection can result in West Nile encephalitis, a severe and sometimes fatal inflammation of the brain. (The risk of severe infection is higher for persons 50 years of age and older.) Officials in Washington D.C. have been getting the word out about protective measures people can take after West Nile virus infected a 55-year-old resident, who is now hospitalized with encephalitis. As of Thursday, state health departments around the U.S. have released information on 113 cases of human illness related to West Nile virus this year, including 5 deaths.

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