West Nile Virus

Mosquitoes have become more than a nuisance recently. They can transmit diseases such as the West Nile virus. One mosquito genus, called Culex, has been found to transmit the West Nile virus and St. Louis encephalitis. Agricultural Research Service scientists have received a patent for a baculovirus – a virus specific to arthropods – a virus that kills Culex mosquitoes, according to an ARS Web site article by Jim Core. The Web site’s article says the patent also includes a method for transmitting the baculovirus to the mosquitoes. The baculovirus infects only Culex mosquitoes, but not other insects, plants, wildlife or people.

Baculoviruses are uncommon in mosquitoes. James J. Becnel, an entomologist with the ARS Center for Medical, Agricultural and Veterinary Entomology discovered CuniNPV, a baculovirus that is a candidate to develop into a larvicide, according to the ARS article. The virus is activated when mixed with magnesium. When the mixture is added to a body of water where mosquitoes breed, larvae ingest it. According to Becnel, the virus can kill 85 to 95 percent of mosquitoes after two to three days and the magnesium won’t harm the water.

For more information visit the USDA Web site.

Source: Jim Core

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