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Light pollution affects West Nile virus exposure risk across Florida


Kernbach, Meredith (2021), Light pollution affects West Nile virus exposure risk across Florida, Dryad, Dataset,


Emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) present global health threats, and their emergences are often linked to anthropogenic change. Artificial light at night (ALAN) is one form of anthropogenic change that spans beyond urban boundaries and may be relevant to EIDs through its influence on behavior and physiology of hosts and/or vectors. Although West Nile virus (WNV) emergence has been described as peri-urban, we hypothesized that exposure risk could also be influenced by ALAN in particular, which is testable by comparing the effects of ALAN on prevalence while controlling for other aspects of urbanization. By modeling WNV exposure among sentinel chickens in Florida, we found strong support for a nonlinear relationship between ALAN and WNV exposure risk in chickens with peak WNV risk occurring at low ALAN levels. Although our goal was not to discern how ALAN affected WNV relative to other factors, effects of ALAN on WNV exposure were stronger than other known drivers of risk (i.e., impervious surface, human population density). Ambient temperature in the month prior to sampling, but no other considered variables, strongly influenced WNV risk. These results indicate that ALAN may contribute to spatiotemporal changes in WNV risk, justifying future investigations of ALAN on other vector-borne parasites.