Campus News

Assistant professor talks effect of light pollution on West Nile virus

Richard Hall, an assistant professor in the Odum School of Ecology, was recently quoted in an article from Mirage about the effect of light pollution on risk of West Nile virus.

Light pollution can drive infectious disease patterns in nature, a new study found. Birds and mosquitoes are attracted to light, which increases the chance that they’ll spread West Nile virus to other animals and humans.

Hall, who is co-author of the study, spoke on their current findings.

“This study adds to a growing body of literature documenting the many ways in which artificial light at night can influence the health of birds and other wildlife,” Hall said. “Bright lights at night in urban centers are known to disorient birds on migration, leading to increased risk of building collisions. But this study shows how pervasive the effect of even modest levels of artificial light can be. It also underscores the importance of initiatives to reduce light impacts on wildlife, such as the ‘Lights Out’ scheme to reduce night light during migration season.”

The article continued to mention the study’s findings in light of using sentinel chickens as a surveillance method to monitor West Nile virus, for example.