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ARS Home » Research » Research Project #431942

Research Project: Rift Valley Fever Pathogenesis, Epidemiology, and Control Measures

Location: Foreign Arthropod Borne Animal Disease Research

Project Number: 3022-32000-022-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Nov 16, 2016
End Date: Nov 15, 2021

1. Identify factors associated with Bunyaviridae (Rift Valley Fever virus) infections, pathogenesis, and maintenance in vector and animal hosts. Subobjective 1A: Identify viral molecular determinants of virulence and mechanisms of viral pathogenesis in relevant animal hosts associated with arthropod-transmitted virus. Subobjective 1B: Characterize host, vector and bunyavirus interactions (molecular and cellular) associated with virus infection. 2. Identify epidemiological and ecological factors affecting the inter-epidemic cycle and disease emergence caused Bunyaviridae (Rift Valley Fever virus). Subobjective 2A: Develop means to detect and characterize emergent arboviral diseases and use these data to generate models that predict future outbreaks. Subobjective 2B: Identify the biotic and abiotic factors that favor establishment of emerging arboviruses and use these data to generate models that predict future outbreaks.

The potential introduction of Rift Valley fever (RVF) virus (RVFV) is the most significant arthropod-borne animal disease threat to U.S. livestock according to the USDA-APHIS National Veterinary Stockpile (NVS) Steering Committee. A number of challenges exist for the control and prevention of RVF in the areas of disease surveillance, diagnostics, vaccines and vector control. RVFV is the third biological threat agent on the NVS Steering Committee’s priority list for generation and stockpiling of countermeasures for diagnosis, vaccination, and insect control. Understanding the epidemiological factors affecting disease outbreak and the interepizootic maintenance of RVFV is necessary for the development of appropriate countermeasures strategies. This includes the ability to detect and characterize emergent viruses since RVFV is an RNA virus and could evolve to adapt to a new environment. Also, the proposed research will identify determinants of RVFV infection, pathogenesis and maintenance in mammalian and insect vector hosts. Information derived from these studies will also provide a better vaccine evaluation challenge model. Vaccine formulations will be developed to improve immunogenicity, onset of immunity and stability to provide better response to outbreaks and prevent RVFV epizootics. The overall goals of this project are to utilize the unit’s unique multidisciplinary expertise to fill knowledge gaps about the interepidemic cycle of RVFV and provide the tools necessary for detecting, controlling and eradicating RVFV should it be introduced into the U.S.