Scientists on trail of West Nile Virus

Washington: Scientists are now one step closer in solving the mystery of how the West Nile Virus - which causes fever or severe neurological symptoms and is transmitted from birds to humans by blood-sucking mosquitoes – migrates.

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.

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.

When other key countries adopt this approach, it will be possible to track West Nile Virus on a global scale, says Prof. Mendelson.

The study has been published in the journal Eurosurveillance.