Global travel and climate warming could be creating the right conditions for outbreaks of a new virus in this country, according to a new Cornell University computer model.
The model predicts that outbreaks of chikungunya, a painful virus transported by travelers and spread by the invasive Asian tiger mosquito, could occur in 2013 in New York City during August and September, in Atlanta from June through September, and year-round in Miami. The probability of a disease outbreak is correlated with temperature, as warmer weather allows the Asian tiger mosquito to breed faster and grow in numbers, according to the study published in the November issue of PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases.
According to the simulation, there is a high probability of a chikungunya outbreak if a single infected person arrives in New York in July or August and is bitten by an Asian tiger mosquito. The risks are the same, but with wider time frames, for transmission in Atlanta and Miami, according to the paper.
Asian tiger mosquitoes were introduced to the United States in Texas in the 1980s; they are established up the East Coast into New Jersey and are rising in numbers in New York City. The aggressive mosquito outcompetes local varieties and transmits more than 20 pathogens, including chikungunya and dengue, said Laura Harrington, associate professor of entomology and the study's senior author.
"The virus is moving in people, and resident mosquito populations are picking it up," Harrington said.
The model estimates that with typical regional temperatures, a chikungunya outbreak in New York would infect about one in 5,000 people, said Diego Ruiz-Moreno, a postdoctoral associate and the paper's lead author
"However, this number would increase drastically as temperatures rise due to climate change," Ruiz-Moreno said.
Chikungunya symptoms include a fever, severe joint pain, achiness, headache, nausea and fatigue, as well as "debilitating and prolonged" pain in the small joints of the hands and feet, according to the paper. The virus originated in Central Africa and is endemic in Southeast Asia.
Since no chikungunya vaccine exists, U.S. residents can help prevent an outbreak by removing standing water, wearing long sleeves and repellent during the day when the mosquitoes feed, and knowing the risk and symptoms when traveling, Harrington said.
Cornell University: http://pressoffice.cornell.edu
This press release was posted to serve as a topic for discussion. Please comment below. We try our best to only post press releases that are associated with peer reviewed scientific literature. Critical discussions of the research are appreciated. If you need help finding a link to the original article, please contact us on twitter or via e-mail.
Paracetamol, a painkiller universally recommended to treat people with acute low back pain, does not speed recovery or reduce pain from the condition, according to the results of a large trial published on Thursday.
Bone marrow grafts have helped both patients stay all but virus-free for three years. But the disease has come back before in others, and a simpler treatment is needed
Low levels of alcohol can improve your ability to discriminate between different odours, but be warned, the effect is reversed if you drink too much
Modified mozzies will be raised and released on a commercial scale for the first time, but critics warn that this biotech has not been sufficiently tested
Locally acquired cases of chikungunya virus have been identified in the US for the first time, while cases soar in Europe and Central America
A significant percentage of obese kids think their weight is just fine. But do they need to know the truth to get healthier?
Cancer-fighting drug romidepsin has been shown to expose hibernating HIV, making it susceptible to attack
Oversleep causes a feeling similar to feeling hung over and it's caused by the same biological function that gives you jet lag.
Early results of a drug combination called PaMZ offer the best hope in decades of bringing the pernicious, drug-resistant form of tuberculosis under control
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "may never know" how a fairly harmless form of bird flu was cross-contaminated with a dangerous bird flu strain before it was sent to a laboratory outside of the CDC, an agency spokesman said on Monday.