Where Will the World’s Next Zika, West Nile or Dengue Virus Come From?

Aedes aegypti, mosquito
Aedes aegypti is a mosquito that can cause yellow fever. UC Davis scientists developed a map of where flaviviruses — those spread by mosquitoes and ticks — are likely to emerge. (James Gathany - CDC - PHIL, Public Domain, Wikipedia Commons)

After collecting data and comparing it with every known mammal and bird species on Earth, scientists from the University of California, Davis, have identified wildlife species that are the most likely to host flaviviruses such as Zika, West Nile, dengue and yellow fever. Flaviviruses are known to cause major epidemics and widespread illness and death throughout the world.

The resulting “hot spot” maps show regions of the world with high diversity of potential wildlife hosts of flaviviruses — viruses mostly spread by mosquitoes and ticks. These include regions where flaviviruses have not been detected but that have wildlife species with the potential to harbor them.

The information provides scientists and health authorities with a road map for disease detection and surveillance efforts.

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