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Regional differences in the association between land cover and West Nile virus disease incidence in humans in the United States.

Abstract

West Nile virus (WNV) is generally considered to be an urban pathogen in the United States, but studies associating land cover and disease incidence, seroprevalence, or infection rate in humans, birds, domesticated and wild mammals, and mosquitoes report varying and sometimes contradictory results at an array of spatial extents. Human infection can provide insight about basic transmission activity; therefore, we analyzed data on the incidence of WNV disease in humans to obtain a comprehensive picture of how human disease and land cover type are associated across the United States. Human WNV disease incidence in Northeastern regions was positively associated with urban land covers, whereas incidence in the Western United States was positively associated with agricultural land covers. We suggest that these regional associations are explained by the geographic distributions of prominent WNV vectors: Culex pipiens complex (including Cx. pipiens and Cx. quinquefasciatus) in the Northeast and Cx. tarsalis in the Western United States.

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