Study Explains How West Nile Virus Thrives In Mosquitos

The Yale study will be published in the September issue of the journal Cell

Study Explains How West Nile Virus Thrives In Mosquitos
Download Audio
Audio Playlist
Study Explains How West Nile Virus Thrives In Mosquitos

A Yale University researcher has discovered how West Nile virus lives in mosquitos. WNPR’s Diane Orson reports.

Yale Professor Dr. Erol Fikrig says that when West Nile enters mosquitos, it tricks them into making more protein. And that allows the virus to survive and be transmitted. Theoretically, he says, the discovery could eventually lead to a disruption in the lifecycle of the virus, and may also help scientists understand other diseases.

"Hopefully the models we’ve learned from West Nile here could be applicable to things that are transmitted by ticks, the Lyme disease agent; also to protozoan such as malaria that are transmitted by other mosquitos."

The Yale study will be published in the September issue of the journal Cell. Mosquitos in seven Connecticut towns have tested positive for West Nile. Four people – in Danbury, Hartford, New London and Woodbridge - have recovered after being diagnosed with West Nile-associated illness. 

People infected with West Nile may have no symptoms, or they may get West Nile Fever, with headache, tiredness and body ache. The Centers for Disease Controls estimates that about 1 person in 150 - may develop a more severe form of the disease. 

For WNPR, I'm Diane Orson.