Raptors under Threat. West Nile virus is an infectious agent that causes neurological problems and death in birds of prey. It could have a catastrophic effect on endangered species such as Spanish Imperial Eagle. The virus is now, and permanently, in the Western Mediterranean. The virus can travel from one continent to another by migrating birds, it causes neurological problems and death of endangered raptors, the expansion is both recent and rapid and could be due to climate change.
Raptors in danger from West Nile Virus
* The virus can travel from one continent to another by migrating birds
* It causes neurological problems and death of endangered raptors
* The expansion is recent and rapid and could be due to climate change
West Nile virus, an infectious agent that causes neurological problems and death in birds of prey. It could have a catastrophic effect on endangered species such as Spanish Imperial Eagle. The virus is now, and permanently, in the Western Mediterranean.
Although this virus is of tropical origin, it has already spread to Spain, Portugal, France, Italy and Morocco and has caused major outbreaks of this disease.
“The West Nile virus or ‘West Nile’ has become the most insect-borne virus spread in the world despite its tropical origin, it has caused major outbreaks in very arid and extremely cold regions, an expansion “recent and rapid “that according to research published in the journal Virology ‘could be due to climate change’. The work has been carried out by a team from the National Institute for Research and Technology Agraria y Alimentaria (INIA).
These are not isolated infections.
The head of the study, the scientist of the Animal Health Research (CISA), INIA, Miguel Angel Jimenez Clavero, said in a statement that his research contradicts the hitherto accepted hypothesis that each pickup Nile fever in Europe was caused by an isolated infection.
By contrast, the study shows that this virus can travel from one continent to another by migrating birds and is now permanently in the Peninsula and the Mediterranean.
The study, conducted in collaboration with the Research Institute of Hunting Resources (IREC) and the Centre for Iberian Raptors CERI, also confirms that the infectious agent found in Spain is less pathogenic compared with other strains.
However, one cannot rule out a possible major outbreak of disease as is now happening in Italy, which has already detected 28 cases of neurological disease in humans and hundreds of horses and birds.
“No country in our area is free of suffering an outbreak like this,” says Jimenez.
Of global warming
The increase in West Nile fever in Europe may be a consequence of global warming and its effect on mosquito populations that act as vectors, because in milder temperatures they are able to survive longer and therefore are more infectious over a longer period of time.
The common house mosquito Culex pipiens, the main transmitter of West Nile virus, has been joined in recent years by the tiger mosquito Aedes albopictus, an invasive species discovered in Spain for the first time in Catalonia in 2004, that has expanded across the world through activities such as the trade in used tyres and ornamental plants.
INIA scientists are also studying the virulence of the virus found in Spain in relation to other countries to better understand why severe outbreaks occur as that in Italy.
In the U.S. the ‘West Nile’ virus has spread throughout the country since 1999, threatening the very survival of some emblematic birds of prey such as the California Condor, “also in danger of extinction, like the Imperial Eagle in Spain,” concludes Jimenez.
Source: El Mundo.es