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Title: The potential ecology of West Nile virus in the Galápagos Islands
Author: Eastwood, Gillian
ISNI:       0000 0004 2747 7634
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2012
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The global increase in emerging infectious diseases [EID] over recent decades reinforces the need to understand epidemiological drivers of emergence, and the ecology of novel pathogens. Vector-borne pathogens can be a significant threat to biodiversity conservation as well as public health. Firstly I examine air-transportation as a mechanism for the dispersal of disease vectors to islands. I then investigate the risk posed by the mosquito- borne flavivirus West Nile virus [WNV] emerging to the Galapaqos Islands. The unprecedented spread of WNV through the Americas led to the decline of several USA bird populations and the introduction of WNV to Galapaqos could be catastrophic for endemic fauna there. Local data is required to predict WNV transmission dynamics and its ability to persist in Galapaqos should it reach the archipelago. Here I investigate the ecology (life history, population abundance and host-feeding patterns) of the Galapaqos mosquitoes Culex quinquefasciatus and Aedes taeniorhynchus and determine their vector competence for WNV. I found that, although limited in distributional abundance by extreme temperatures and salt intolerance, virus competent Cx. quinquefasciatus has feeding behaviour consistent with a role as a WNV 'bridge vector'. Aedes taeniorhynchus is widespread and abundant in Galapaqos and a highly competent WNV vector (unlike US strains of the mosquito), however evidence of avian feeding is lacking. The susceptibility of vertebrate hosts in Galapaqos and their ability to amplify WNV remains to be tested directly. During surveillance conducted in Galapaqos and mainland Ecuador, I did not detect evidence of WNV infection. Nevertheless, pathogen invasion is a dynamic system and continued surveillance is required to ensure early detection. Risk assessments help to identify strategies to mitigate the impact of EIDs. The WNV threat calls for stringent biosecurity in Galapaqos and local capacity for vector control which can be implemented as an emergency response to WNV introduction.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available