Type of regional land cover was a significant effect (p < 0.0001) in the positive pool prediction, indicating that there is an ecological component driving WNV activity. Additionally, month of collection was significant (p < 0.0001); and thus there is a temporal component that contributes to the probability of getting a positive mosquito pool. All virus isolates are of the WNV 2002 lineage. There appears to be some diversity within both forested and wetland areas; and the possibility of a distinct clade in the wetland samples.
The phylogenetic analysis shows that there has been no reversion in Louisiana from the 2002 lineage which replaced the originally introduced strain. Our pool positivity model serves as a basis for future testing, and could direct mosquito control and surveillance efforts. Understanding how land cover and regional ecology effects mosquito pool positivity will greatly help focus mosquito abatement efforts. This would especially help in areas where abatement programs are limited due to either funding or man power. Moreover, understanding how regional environments drive phylogenetic variation will lead to a greater understanding of the interactions between ecology and disease prevalence.
West Nile virus (WNV) is an arbovirus of public health importance in the genus Flavivirus, a group of positive sense RNA viruses. The NS3 gene has a high level of substitutions and is phylogenetically informative. Likewise, substitutions in the envelope region have been postulated to enable viruses to subvert immune responses. Analysis of these genes among isolates from positive mosquitoes collected in Louisiana illustrates the variation present in the regions and provides improved insight to a phylogenetic model. Employing a GIS eco-regionalization method, we hypothesized that WNV pool positivity was correlated with regional environmental characteristics. Further, we postulated that the phylogenetic delineations would be associated with variations in regional environmental conditions.