Vector-borne and Zoonotic Disease Unit

Arboviruses and other vector-borne causes of fever represent a significant source of morbidity throughout Latin America and have impacted past U.S. military overseas missions. The prevention and characterization of these mission-altering threats remain a priority of the U.S. military. NAMRU6-Virology operates field studies in eight Peruvian, four Bolivian, five Ecuadorian, three Paraguayan, three Nicaraguan, and one Honduran sites. Laboratory and field studies include efforts to better understand the epidemiology, immunology, and prevention of dengue fever/dengue hemorrhagic fever as well as many other viral diseases transmitted by insects. Our laboratory-based surveillance efforts include yellow fever, Mayaro, Oropouche, rabies, Venezuelan equine encephalitis, hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, arenaviruses, and group C viruses. Although not caused by a virus, the epidemiology and clinical manifestations of rickettsial disease is also an area of interest.

Goals:
● Provide surveillance for viral agents that cause febrile diseases in patients presenting to laboratories and health centers in many regions of Latin America
● Monitor for the emergence of viruses such as those from the families: Togaviridae (VEE virus), Arenaviridae (Machupo, lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus), Picornaviradae (encephalomyocarditis virus), and Bunyaviridae (Guaroa, Phlebotomus, Candiru-like virus, Oropouche, Murutucu, Caraparu, Hantaviruses). Many of these investigations will take place in NMRCD-Virology’s BSL-3 laboratory or in BSL-4 laboratories affiliated with the University of Texas or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States
● Develop and evaluate diagnostic tests for newly identified viral causes of human disease
Better characterize the transmission dynamics of dengue infection in a community by tracking human movement with satellite positioning technology
● Identify genetic, immunologic, and virus-specific risk factors for severe infection with dengue virus, including dengue hemorrhagic fever
● Monitor the spread of dengue throughout South America, establish molecular sequencing databases of South American dengue viruses, and study the molecular epidemiology of dengue viruses in South America
● Investigate the utility of insecticide-treated curtains and other vector-control methods
● Develop an early warning surveillance system for newly emerging or re-emerging diseases such as SARS, Chikungunya, and West Nile encephalitis in Latin America
● Explore immunologic protection against Eastern equine encephalitis in an animal model
● Describe the contribution of rickettsial disease in a population of febrile patients
● Continue to assist in the training of Latin American virologists, molecular biologists and clinicians in outbreak investigation, laboratory diagnosis and public health