Climate change makes the West Nile virus outbreak credible in the UK

Implications of climate change
Implications of climate change
Implications of climate change. UK Climate Plans (UKCP18) / Met Office font

Climate change makes the West Nile virus outbreak credible in the UK

Scientists say climate change is likely to spread the West Nile virus in the UK over the next 20-30 years.

West Nile virus is transmitted by mosquitoes and no vaccine. Most people have no symptoms at all, but it can cause serious neurological diseases.

Scientists at the UK Center for Ecology and Hydrology (UKCEH), Scotland’s Bio Mathematics and Statistics (BioSS) and the University of Glasgow have developed a new model to determine the risk of West Nile virus outbreak in the UK. They found that the risk was low for the next two or three decades, but it would increase with increasing temperature.

Dr Steven White, a UKCEH theoretical ecologist, said: “It is important to know whether a new disease is affecting us or not.

“The West Nile virus is not currently in the UK, but we have the Gulex Pybion mosquito, which spreads the disease and pollutes humans. The West Nile virus is now spreading in Italy and has caused outbreaks in Germany, so it is moving to a more temperate climate.

“Our model shows that the risk will continue to increase and that future eruptions are credible in the UK.”

The team’s mathematical model analyzed the effects of temperature on biological processes affecting the population of Gulex Pybians mosquitoes in the United Kingdom. They were able to capture how these seasonal changes can interact with rapid virus replication at high temperatures to create eruptions.

West Nile outbreak and in the future will gradually increase the risk of explosions in England unreliable – Dr. Steven White

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While most research has been done, Dr. David Ewing, a former PhD student at UKCEH, said: “Our model shows that the risk of an outbreak increases significantly if the sting season is prolonged, or when new virus strains are introduced. This is reflected in a higher proportion than previously read.

“Other approaches have been simplified, but we are developing complex biological relationships. This model can be adapted to look for other viruses and diseases or other mosquitoes or insects.”

Says Dr. Ewing Study This should not be a cause for warning, but rather helps the UK prepare. “While the risk is relatively low, we can prepare for future outbreaks. It’s as easy as making sure doctors know about the symptoms, tests and people at high risk for serious illness.”

Flow chart showing the relationship between mosquito, bird and human population
Flosart, which shows the relationship between mosquitoes, birds, and human populations as defined in the model, and illustrates the processes by which individuals cause transition between classes of infection, subject to disease-related parameters. There is a corresponding mortality rate at all levels, which is not shown here for clarity. All disease transmission processes are shown by dashed lines, while life cycle processes are shown by solid lines. Many processes depend on temperature.


A New Approach to Predicting the Risk of Vector-Borne Disease in a Mild Temperature Under Climate Change: West Nile Virus in the UK
David A. Ewing, Bethan v. Purse, Christina A. Cobold and Steven M. White

Henrik Cortes, Translation and editing, from the original UK Center for Ecology and Hydrology

On EcoDebate, ISSN 2446-9394, 28/05/2021

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