Sylvatic cycle of arboviruses in African wildlife

  • De Kesel, Wim (PhD Student)
  • Ariën, Kevin (Promotor)
  • Gryseels, Sophie (Promotor)
  • Verheyen, Erik (Promotor)
  • Peeters, Martine (Promotor)

Project Details

Layman's description

Arthropod borne viruses (arboviruses) rely on hematophagous arthropods as a vector for the transmission to a vertebrate host, either an animal or human. During enzootic transmission periods, arboviruses survive in sylvatic cycles using a variety of vertebrate species of which many are currently not identified. This project aims to gain more insight in the ecology and life cycle of these viruses and their vertebrate hosts. I will focus the research on the African continent, since several zoonotic viruses originated in West-, Central- and East Africa. I will mainly target small animal wildlife, such as rodents and bats, with the intention to determine their contribution to the persistence and spread of arboviruses. I hypothesize that these small, but high density and turnover rate, species are an important reservoir that supports sylvatic cycles during epizootic periods. These species often live in proximity to humans, creating spillover opportunities. To examine the hypotheses, I will screen wildlife samples across Africa and perform genetic analyses on the arboviral RNA. Additionally, host species, distribution ranges, phylogeographical relations and transmission models will be determined and created. The results will contribute to a better understanding of arbovirus occurrence and spread in wildlife, leading to an improved prediction, prevention, and control of arbovirus epidemics in wildlife and to a certain extent in humans.
Effective start/end date16/11/23 → …

IWETO expertise domain

  • B780-tropical-medicine