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ARS Home » Plains Area » Manhattan, Kansas » Center for Grain and Animal Health Research » ABADRU » Research » Research Project #431942

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

Location: Arthropod-borne Animal Diseases Research

Project Number: 3020-32000-009-00-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 arthropod vector and vertebrate animal hosts, including identifying viral molecular determinants of virulence and mechanisms of viral pathogenesis in relevant animal hosts associated with arthropod-transmitted virus, and characterizing host, vector and bunyavirus interactions (molecular and cellular) associated with virus infection. Sub-objective 1A: Create a network based stochastic model that accounts for mosquitoes, cattle and humans to determine the best mitigation strategies in the event of an outbreak. Sub-objective 1B: Develop tools for rapid detection and characterization of emergent viruses. 2. Identify epidemiological and ecological factors affecting the inter-epidemic cycle and disease emergence caused by Bunyaviridae (Rift Valley Fever virus), including developing means to detect and characterize emergent arboviral diseases and use these data to generate models that predict future outbreaks, and developing epidemiological models to identify biotic and abiotic factors that contribute to virus establishment, evolution, inter-epidemic maintenance, transmission and disease emergence. Sub-objective 2A: Develop RVFV “vector-transmitted” infectious models in target ruminant species to facilitate studies of disease pathogenesis, disease transmission and vaccine efficacy. Sub-objective 2B: Identify mammalian host innate and adaptive responses to insect transmitted RVFV.

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.