Program in Zoonotic Virus Infections

The Program in Zoonotic Virus Infections is focused on expanding our understanding of the impact of viruses on health and ecosystems through the research of virus-host interactions that span taxonomic and disciplinary boundaries.

Program Goals:

  • Deepen understanding of the impact of viruses on health and ecosystems through the research of virus-host interactions that span taxonomic and disciplinary boundaries.
  • Perform the innovative research needed to understand the mechanisms of viral emergence, prediction of new emerging viruses, and development of countermeasures for zoonotic threats

Recent Development: Characterizing mosquito-borne viruses with potential emergence risk

In work from the Aliota lab, researchers studied the Spondweni virus (SPONV). SPONV is Zika virus’s closest relative, and their objective was to determine (1) if Aedes aegypti mosquitoes have the capacity to transmit SPONV and  (2) if SPONV has the capacity to harm fetuses like Zika virus.

Their work confirmed that the virus can be transmitted by Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, which are commonly found in urban settings throughout the equatorial tropics. Moreover, in mouse models, infection with SPONV during pregnancy caused adverse fetal outcomes. As a result, SPONV possesses features that portend medically significant future outbreaks, leading the researchers to recommend that studies on the basic biology of SPONV be considered a critical public health priority.

ZOONOTIC VIRUS INFECTIONS

Photo credit: Virology https://doi.org/10.1016%2Fj.virol.2020.05.005