Identifying sylvatic reservoir species of outbreak-prone arthropodborne viruses through large-scale serostatus mapping in African wildlife

Project Details


Arthropod-borne (arbo)viruses require a hematophagous arthropod
vector for transmission to vertebrates and are responsible for a
significant global public health burden with over 100 viral species
having the capacity to cause disease in humans. During enzootic
periods, arboviruses survive in sylvatic cycles involving a variety of
species of which many are currently not identified, especially not in
Africa. We hypothesize that primates, which are often put forward as
reservoir species, are likely accidental hosts because their population
numbers and number of susceptible offspring are not sufficiently high
to maintain sylvatic cycles during extended epizootic periods. It is
therefore more plausible that high-density species like rodents, bats
and birds are important arbovirus reservoirs. These species have
large numbers of offspring ensuring sufficient immunologically naïve
animals at any time, and they are often attracted to human
settlements, creating opportunities for transmission to humans. To
challenge this hypothesis, we will study the seroprevalence of 24
arboviruses in +30,000 specimens of rodent, bat, bird, primates and
humans from across the African continent, using a high-throughput
antibody detection platform. Next, we will perform molecular
verification of host species, infer distribution ranges and do
phylogeographic analyses. The results from this study will be
instrumental to better predict, control and prevent virus spill over and
outbreaks in humans.
Effective start/end date1/01/2031/12/23


  • Fonds voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek: €507,596.00