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Researchers Win a Round against West Nile virus

November 6, 2008

What's New ImageWhile the mortgage crisis has affected people in many ways, you might not connect the issue to public health. However, some experts have done just that.

Scientists from UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and Kern County, CA have reported that when mortgage foreclosures rose 300% in the city of Bakersfield in 2007, the number of cases of West Nile virus in humans rose to 140 cases.
The culprit? Untended swimming pools that had been abandoned after home foreclosures rose by 300% in the region.

Working with fellow entomologists and other scientists, William Reisen of the Center for Vectorborne Diseases observed that abandoned swimming pools and weather conditions favorable to mosquito breeding may have been responsible for the 275% increase of West Nile in the region.

Good news: In 2008, with early scientific monitoring and aggressive mosquito-control measures, not a single human case occurred in the county. “This year, they did an excellent job and nipped everything in the bud,” Reisen told the New York Times. “Getting on top of things early made a big difference.”

You can read the study online in Emerging Infectious Diseases, a journal of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.