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Research targets West Nile Virus prevention

Researchers say their study on West Nile Virus might help public officials predict when future outbreaks will occur. Last year California had the highest concentration of the mosquito-borne disease. KPBS reporter Beth Ford Roth has details.

The study focused on the feeding habits of mosquitoes. Researchers found that mosquitoes shift from biting birds, to biting humans, based on the migration patterns of the birds. When the birds leave their breeding grounds, mosquitoes start feeding on humans.

Marm Kilpatrick with the Consortium for Conservation Medicine in New York says public health officials can use these findings to forecast what time of the year people will be most at risk of infection, and better target their prevention efforts.

Kilpatrick: "Some of the risk models that have been proposed use the abundance of West Nile Virus infected mosquitoes that are present in an area as an indicator of human risk, and what this research shows is that while that is a decent indicator, you need to take into account what the mosquitoes are feeding on as well."

The first bird this year to test positive for West Nile Virus in San Diego County was found last week. Beth Ford Roth, KPBS news.

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