Exploring the current and future niches of Bluetongue virus and its vectors

How will future climates affect the global distribution and infection risk of Bluetongue virus? 

Data resources used via GBIF : 40 species occurrences
A couple of healthy sheep (Ovis aries)

A couple of healthy sheep (Ovis aries). Photo by Jon Sullivan licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.

Bluetongue disease is a viral, but non-contagious disease of ruminants caused by the Bluetongue virus (BTV). Outbreaks in the Mediterranean region has resulted in the deaths of 800,000 sheep since 1998. In the US alone, BTV is responsible for losses amounting to $125 million per year. In this study, researchers built a comprehensive compilation of BTV cases and modelled the potential distribution of the virus under current and future climates. Under all future scenarios, they find that the virus is projected to expand its niche. Relating these findings to niche models for vector species (Culicoides spp.) based on different sources including GBIF, they find no significant differences, indicating that the virus and vectors share niches. This important observation may assist in identifying areas with no current disease reported, but at potential risk for infections in the future.

Samy AM and Peterson AT (2016) Climate Change Influences on the Global Potential Distribution of Bluetongue Virus. PLOS ONE. Public Library of Science (PLoS) 11(3): e0150489. Available at doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0150489.