Identification of suitable areas for West Nile virus outbreaks in equid populations for application in surveillance plans: the example of the Castile and Leon region of Spain

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The introduction and rapid spread of West Nile virus (WNV) into new areas such as the American continent, associated also with the severity of the disease in humans and equids has increased concerns regarding the need to better prevent and control future WNV incursions. WNV outbreaks in equids usually occur under specific climatic and environmental conditions and, typically, before detection of WNV cases in humans. Targeting surveillance strategies in areas and time periods identified as suitable for WNV outbreaks in equids may act as an early-warning system to prevent disease in both equids and humans. This study used a GIS-based framework to identify suitable areas and time periods for WNV outbreak occurrence in one of the most important areas of equid production in Spain, i.e. Castile and Leon. Methods and results presented here may help to improve the early detection and control of future WNV outbreaks in Spain and other regions.
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