A spatial risk assessment of West Nile virus in British Columbia

The spread of the West Nile virus in North America and human cases in British Columbia's surrounding provinces/states.
The spread of the West Nile virus in North America and human cases in British Columbia's surrounding provinces/states.

West Nile virus has recently emerged as a health threat to the North American population after the initial disease outbreak in New York City in 1999. Since then, West Nile virus has spread widely and quickly across North America.

In this study researchers developed models of mosquito populations and created a spatial risk assessment of West Nile virus prior to its arrival in British Columbia by creating a raster-based mosquito abundance model using basic geographic and temperature data.

The result of the spatially-explicit mosquito abundance model indicates that the Okanagan Valley, the Thompson Region, Greater Vancouver, the Fraser Valley and southeastern Vancouver Island have the highest potential abundance of the mosquitoes. After including human population data, Greater Vancouver, due to its high population density, increases in significance relative to the other areas.

Creating a raster-based mosquito abundance map enabled researchers to quantitatively evaluate West Nile virus risk throughout British Columbia and to identify the areas of greatest potential risk, prior to West Nile virus introduction. In producing the map knowledge related to mosquito ecology in British Columbia were identified and it became evident that increased efforts in bird and mosquito surveillance are required if more accurate models and maps are to be produced. Also access to real time climatic data is key for developing a real time early warning system for forecasting vector borne disease outbreaks, while including social factors is important when producing a detailed assessment in urban areas.

To learn more about this study, please view the in depth analysis.

Melissa Lawrence, Social Marketing Administrator, VERTICES, LLC

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