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Epidemiology of La Crosse Virus Emergence, Appalachia Region, United States.

Abstract

La Crosse encephalitis is a viral disease that has emerged in new locations across the Appalachian region of the United States. Conventional wisdom suggests that ongoing emergence of La Crosse virus (LACV) could stem from the invasive Asian tiger (Aedes albopictus) mosquito. Efforts to prove this, however, are complicated by the numerous transmission routes and species interactions involved in LACV dynamics. To analyze LACV transmission by Asian tiger mosquitoes, we constructed epidemiologic models. These models accurately predict empirical infection rates. They do not, however, support the hypothesis that Asian tiger mosquitoes are responsible for the recent emergence of LACV at new foci. Consequently, we conclude that other factors, including different invasive mosquitoes, changes in climate variables, or changes in wildlife densities, should be considered as alternative explanations for recent increases in La Crosse encephalitis.

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