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Galapagos Island's iconic wildlife facing threat from West Nile virus

Washington , Sat, 17 Sep 2011 ANI

Washington, Sept 17 (ANI): The iconic wildlife in the Gal pagos Islands is under threat from the West Nile virus, researchers say.


Scientists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), the University of Leeds and the New York State Department of Health, together with the Gal pagos National Park Service and University of Guayaquil, have been studying the disease threat posed by the Islands' mosquito populations, and have discovered that a species of these biting insects is capable of transmitting West Nile virus.


West Nile virus (WNV) most commonly affects birds, but can infect mammals, including humans, and reptiles.


Previous studies of West Nile virus impact in the USA have linked the virus to declines in several bird populations, demonstrating the high risk it poses to the Gal pagos' endemic species.


Recent studies on tourist boats and planes have shown that the mosquito species Culex quinquefasciatus is hitching a ride onto the Gal pagos on airliners.


"We now know that mosquitoes capable of carrying West Nile virus have a route onto the Gal pagos, and once there, the virus could also spread into the local mosquito population.


This means there is potential for large impacts on endemic species. There is no doubt that West Nile virus poses a serious threat to the survival of the Gal pagos' iconic wildlife," he added. (ANI)


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