Mild winters may shift spread of mosquito-borne illness | Science News

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Mild winters may shift spread of mosquito-borne illness

Species that transmits brain virus in the Southeast may turn to mammals earlier in warmer years

By
3:30pm, March 13, 2012

Mild winters appear to speed annual menu changes for disease-carrying mosquitoes. And the revised biting patterns might play an overlooked role in worsening the risk of brain infections in people and horses.

The mosquito Culex erraticus spreads the virus that causes eastern equine encephalitis. It’s an uncommon but often lethal disease, killing about half of the people who contract it and virtually all the infected horses. Populations of C. erraticus, like some other mosquitoes, start their biting season targeting mostly birds but end up focusing on deer, horses, people and other mammals.

The t

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