Viruses; Human infectious disease; Animal infectious disease; Pathogenesis; Epidemiology; Epizootiology; Genetics
I currently have funded projects from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and the Biotechnology Extension Program (DHHS) to explore the extent of disease and identification of agents involved in highly fatal human viral diseases in several parts of the world. The agents include hantaviruses, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus and tick-borne encephalitis virus and several fevers of unknown origin. The case-fatality ratio of the diseases in as high as 80% in some cases, and there is no vaccine or other treatment available. Many are transmitted to humans by biting insects (e.g. ticks or mosquitoes) which makes control and avoidance of contact difficult. We are using real-time PCR approaches to investigate the genomes of these agents, with a view to developing vaccines or novel antiviral treatments. We are also using GIS technology to map the viruses, their reservoir hosts and their vectors. This work is being pursued in central Asia and Siberia.