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More stress for birds means higher chances of West Nile virus

Cara J

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Birds that have more of the stress hormone corticosterone are more likely to be bitten by mosquitoes that can carry West Nile virus, according to a new study. “This particular study is the first chain linking the interaction between the virus, the mosquito and the bird,” said senior author of the study, Lynn (Marty) Martin, who is an associate professor at the University of South Florida. Lynn (Marty) Martin, an associate professor in the University of South Florida’s Department of Integrative Biology, holds a zebra finch. ©University of South Florida/USF Health Martin says it’s important to think of the disease as a process, with the first step being the virus finding its hosts, which, in this case, are birds. “We were looking at how stress hormones affect the contact rate of mosquitoes with birds,” he said. “Lo and behold, we found that stress hormones were pretty important in mosquitoes choosing which hosts to bite.” As part of their study — recently published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B — the researchers examined how the southern house mosquito — a vector of West Nile virus — chose to feed on zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata) with altered stress hormones. The [...]


Read more: http://wildlife.org/more-stress-for-birds-means-higher-chances-of-west-nile-virus/

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