Global warming causes the spread of West Nile Virus in Europe, Israel and other regions, according to a new study conducted at the University of Haifa for the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control in Stockholm, which was released on Sunday.
The Israeli research team was chosen by the European Center, which belongs to the European Union, to lead the research.
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West Nile Virus, spread by mosquitoes that bite infected birds and can affect man, killed 10 Israelis and infected over 120 others several years ago, but has not caused fatalities here since. It is now considered to be endemic in Africa, Asia, Australia, parts of the Middle East, Europe and in the US, which in 2012 went through one of its worst outbreaks.
Higher temperatures around the world have a major influence on the spread of the disease in Europe and other neighboring areas, according to University of Haifa researcher Dr. Shulamit Paz, who headed the team that just published its study in PLoS One. She said the evidence on how warmer weather influences the spread of West Nile virus is becoming more clear all the time.
The infection can cause irreversible brain damage through encephalitis or meningitis in humans, and the elderly and people with weak immune systems are most susceptible.