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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: Predictive Biology of Emerging Vector-Borne Viral Diseases

Location: Arthropod-borne Animal Diseases Research

Project Number: 3020-32000-011-00-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Apr 24, 2017
End Date: Jul 31, 2018

The goals of this research program are: 1) understanding how viruses differentially adapt to insect and animal hosts, and how this knowledge can be used to break the cycle of transmission and 2) develop better countermeasures (detection and preventative tools) to increase the efficiency of livestock production, and in the case of zoonotic diseases, prevent the transmission to human hosts. The new funding will be used to study two new families of viruses that include important emerging vector-borne viruses of animals: 1) Flaviviridae, genus Flavivirus (West Nile virus and Japanese Encephalitis virus) and 2) Rhabdoviridae, genus Vesiculovirus(Vesicular Stomatitis virus). The research described below addresses the following research components in the 2012-2017 Animal Health National Program (NP 103) Action Plan: 1) Component 1: Biodefense, Problem Statement 1A, Foreign Animal Diseases, and Problem Statement 1B, Emerging Diseases. The research addresses ARS Strategic Plan Performance Measures 4.2.2 (Provide scientific information to protect animals, humans, and property from the negative effects of pests and infectious diseases. Specific Objectives of the Research: 1. Identify factors associated with Flavivirus infections, pathogenesis and maintenance in vector and animal hosts. a. Identify viral molecular determinants of virulence and mechanisms of viral pathogenesis in relevant animal hosts associated with arthropod-transmitted virus. b. Characterize vector and host innate responses (cellular and molecular) to virus infection. c. Characterize host, vector and virus interactions (molecular and cellular) associated with virus maintenance and transmission cycles 2. Identify epidemiological and ecological factors affecting disease outbreaks caused by Flaviviruses and Vesicular Stomatitis Virus a. Develop means to detect and characterize emergent arboviral diseases and use these data to generate models that predict future outbreaks. b. Identify the biotic and abiotic factors that favor establishment of emerging arboviral strains and predict trends in virus evolution.

Objective 1. The specific research approaches for this experimental section will be developed once the veterinary molecular virologist is recruited to the Unit. Also, the research studies complete this objective will be performed in collaboration with scientists at Kansas State University and will utilize the Biosecurity Research Institute facilities. The basic approach will be a mechanistic characterization of the early molecular and cellular inflammatory and immune responses to infection in both mosquitoes and susceptible mammalian hosts, principally swine. Particular emphasis will be placed on comparative virulence associated with currently circulating viruses in Asia. The individual studies in swine will be designed to identify the host responses associated with establishment of initial local infection, subsequent viremia and pathogenicity. In mosquitoes the studies will be design to characterize host responses associated with establishment of stable infection of and effective transmission by these potential vector populations. Problems to be addressed: I. Prediction of vector competence in new ecological habitats II. Prediction of virus maintenance in the vector populations III. Characterize virus transmission to swine IV. Comparative studies with other Flaviviruses (West Nile virus, for instance) or other emerging Flaviviruses as opportunity or needs arise Objective 2. The specific research approaches for this experimental section will be developed once the computational biologist is recruited to the Unit. Also, the research studies complete this objective will be performed in collaboration with scientists at Kansas State University. As newly emerging strains of virus appear in these endemic regions, they will be studied in order to understand the mechanistic reasons why they become established in both vector and host populations. Similar studies will be designed for both the Flaviviruses and vesicular stomatitis virus. Problems to be addressed: I. Development of effective surveillance methodology II. Genetic characterization of currently circulating viruses within the endemic regions III. Model development to estimate epidemiological and viral evolutionary trends in both endemic and regions where virus or vector introduction is possible

Last Modified: 05/25/2017
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