Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New threat closes in on iconic Galápagos wildlife

Date:
September 17, 2011
Source:
University of Leeds
Summary:
Renewed vigilance over the biosecurity of the Galápagos Islands is needed, based on new research on the risk posed by West Nile virus.

Blue-footed boobies. Renewed vigilance over the biosecurity of the Galápagos Islands is needed, based on new research on the risk posed by West Nile virus.
Credit: © javarman / Fotolia

Renewed vigilance over the biosecurity of the Galápagos Islands is needed, based on new research on the risk posed by West Nile virus. Scientists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), the University of Leeds and the New York State Department of Health, together with the Galápagos National Park Service and University of Guayaquil, have been studying the disease threat posed by Islands' mosquito populations. They have discovered that a species of these biting insects is capable of transmitting West Nile virus, a potentially dangerous disease for the archipelago's unique wildlife.

Related Articles


West Nile virus (WNV) most commonly affects birds, but can infect mammals, including humans, and reptiles. Previous studies of West Nile virus impact in the USA have linked the virus to declines in several bird populations, demonstrating the high risk it poses to the Galápagos' endemic species. The virus recently invaded South America, but has yet to reach the Galápagos.

Recent studies on tourist boats and planes have shown that the mosquito species Culex quinquefasciatus (also known as the Southern house mosquito) is hitching a ride onto the Galápagos on airliners. Culex species are well-known vectors of WNV elsewhere in the world, so their presence on the Islands has caused concern amongst the scientific community.

The ability of mosquitoes to transmit particular disease agents effectively often varies between species, or between populations within species. Therefore to understand the risk posed by C. quinquefasciatus in Galápagos, the research team measured the ability of Galápagos C. quinquefasciatus to pick up and transmit WNV in the lab, under conditions that simulated those in the wild. They found that Galápagos C. quinquefasciatus were indeed effective vectors for the virus.

Prof Andrew Cunningham from ZSL says: "We now know that mosquitoes capable of carrying West Nile virus have a route onto the Galápagos, and once there, the virus could also spread into the local mosquito population. This means there is potential for large impacts on endemic species. There is no doubt that West Nile virus poses a serious threat to the survival of the Galápagos' iconic wildlife."

In order to reduce the chances of West Nile virus reaching the islands, the authors suggest further research to determine the presence of WNV in the mainland Ecuador, plus strict enforcement insect control measures on aircraft and ships moving between the mainland and islands.

Dr Simon Goodman from the University of Leeds says: "Piece by piece we are building up a comprehensive picture of the disease ecology in Galápagos and what could happen if WNV were to reach the islands. Once WNV has been introduced onto the Galápagos, it would be much harder to contain. Therefore the best strategy is to have strict preventive measures to reduce the chance of the disease reaching the islands in the first place."

Lead author PhD student Gillian Eastwood says: "Whilst WNV does not yet exist in Galápagos, it is important to envisage what future disease scenarios could be by looking at how this particular virus would interact within this unique ecosystem. Evaluating the role that mosquitoes could play is therefore vital. This recent part of our work is however only one aspect to understanding potential WNV transmission on the Islands; it remains to see how severely Galapagos wildlife might be affected but all precautions should be taken."

The research is published in the current edition of the American Journal of Tropical Medicine Hygiene.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Leeds. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. G. Eastwood, L. D. Kramer, S. J. Goodman, A. A. Cunningham. West Nile Virus Vector Competency of Culex quinquefasciatus Mosquitoes in the Galapagos Islands. American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 2011; 85 (3): 426 DOI: 10.4269/ajtmh.2011.10-0739

Cite This Page:

University of Leeds. "New threat closes in on iconic Galápagos wildlife." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 September 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110916102406.htm>.
University of Leeds. (2011, September 17). New threat closes in on iconic Galápagos wildlife. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110916102406.htm
University of Leeds. "New threat closes in on iconic Galápagos wildlife." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/09/110916102406.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Christmas Kissing Good for Health

Christmas Kissing Good for Health

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) — Scientists in Amsterdam say couples transfer tens of millions of microbes when they kiss, encouraging healthy exposure to bacteria. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Brain-Dwelling Tapeworm Reveals Genetic Secrets

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 22, 2014) — Cambridge scientists have unravelled the genetic code of a rare tapeworm that lived inside a patient's brain for at least four year. Researchers hope it will present new opportunities to diagnose and treat this invasive parasite. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Fish Species Discovered, Setting Record for World's Deepest

New Fish Species Discovered, Setting Record for World's Deepest

Buzz60 (Dec. 22, 2014) — A new species of fish is discovered living five miles beneath the ocean surface, making it the deepest living fish on earth. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) — Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins