Study Finds Key to West Nile Virus

NEW HAVEN, Conn., Aug. 27 (UPI) — A U.S. scientist has made a key discovery about the West Nile virus that could lead to success in the battle against the disease, researchers say.

Erol Fikrig, professor of medicine and epidemiology at the Yale School of Medicine, has discovered how the virus is able to survive in a mosquito’s body awaiting the chance to infect a human when the insect bites, The New Haven (Conn.) Register reported Friday.

The West Nile virus causes the mosquito to produce a protein that allows it to enter the mosquito’s cells and survive there, Fikrig says.

“We’ve identified molecules in the mosquito,” Fikrig said. “These are mosquito proteins that the West Nile virus requires to survive in the mosquito. … We’re hopeful that it’s also applicable to at least other flaviviruses.”

Flavivirus diseases include yellow fever, dengue fever and mosquito-borne encephalitis.

The identification of the process that brings virus and insect together could make it easier to find ways to curtail the spread of these diseases, researchers say.

Mosquitoes have tested positive for West Nile in 18 Connecticut towns so far this year, the state Department of Public Health says.

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