AU to study links between urbanization and West Nile - WSFA.com: News Weather and Sports for Montgomery, AL.

AU to study links between urbanization and West Nile

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AUBURN, AL (WTVM) -

Nearly 1,600 cases of people infected with West Nile Virus have been reported to the Center of Disease Control this year.

This is the highest number of cases reported to the CDC since it was first detected in the U.S. in 1999.

Now, researchers at Auburn University are trying to get a better understanding of the disease. The School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences has been awarded a $240,000 grant from the U.S. Forest Service Urban and Community Forestry Program to study the links between urbanization and West Nile Virus.

"We are interested in the effect of urbanization and particularly in the eastern and southern US. West Nile Virus is an urban disease and that is because of the biology of the mosquitoes that vector West Nile Virus," says AU Quantitative Disease Ecologist, Krisztian Magori.

Magori believes that this year's unusual weather pattern is a leading factor in the recent West Nile outbreak.

"These conditions all bring together a perfect storm of increasing those mosquito populations and West Nile Virus transmission," explains Magori.

The study is about predicting risks, going beyond saying bad water quality means more mosquitoes, and showing a numerical relationship in order to help prevent infection.

"The linkage is not clear and we want to know that under what conditions present the most risk for West Nile Virus," says AU doctoral student, Navideh Noori.

The results of the study will be released to help better plan for future development projects.

"We will develop a predictive model and we will try to reduce the risk of this disease by giving some management guidelines for planners to show them what they can do for future land use changes," explains Noori.

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