This is the home of the research project entitled "West Nile virus: Eco-epidemiology of disease emergence in urban areas II". Since 2005, this multi-institutional collaborative project has beed studying the transmission, amplification, and evolution of West Nile virus in suburban Chicago, Illinois.
West Nile virus re-emerges annually in urban settings across the United States in a predictable cycle of accelerating mosquito-bird transmission known as amplification. When the virus amplifies sufficiently in birds and mosquitoes, it spills over into humans. This project focuses on a persistent hot spot of viral amplification and human disease in suburban Chicago. The project will determine how fine-scale ecological processes spark local transmission foci, and how these foci ultimately coalesce into larger patterns of amplification. By combining field studies of birds and mosquitoes with molecular studies of the virus and geographic analyses of fine-scale landscape characteristics, the study will elucidate the fundamental ecological drivers of West Nile virus transmission, amplification, and evolution in urban settings.
West Nile virus is responsible for recurring illness in humans and wildlife. By determining how ecological factors in the urban environment facilitate viral transmission, this study will provide information that will improve both human public health and wildlife conservation. Moreover, new and re-emerging mosquito-borne diseases threaten urban populations throughout the USA and the world. Information on West Nile virus from this study will help predict and prevent the emergence of similar diseases in urban environments across the USA and elsewhere.