All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Thomas R Unnasch

Advisory Committee Members

Craig Guyer

Elliot J Lefkowitz

Robert J Novak

Jianming Tang

Document Type

Dissertation

Date of Award

2011

Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Heersink School of Medicine

Abstract

The virus Eastern Equine Encephalitis virus (EEEV) is a highly pathogenic arthropod-borne virus (arbovirus) present in the US. The virus is listed as a reportable illness to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and is also listed as a select agent by Human Health and Services (HHS). Studies on EEEV starting back in the 1930's have determined many important facets of the ecology, transmission and evolution of the virus. It is understood that in many endemic foci, the mosquito Culiseta melanura is the primary enzootic vector of the virus. EEEV is thus maintained in an enzootic cycle between Cs melanura and avian hosts. There are, however, still some important aspects of EEEV ecology and transmission that remain unresolved. A major unanswered question about the virus is the mechanism by which it is maintained in the same temperate foci from year to year despite the cessation of mosquito and virus activity. Another aspect of the ecology of EEEV that remains unclear is if the transmission and evolution of the virus in the Southeastern areas of the US differ from the well-studied Northeastern range of EEEV. The research in this dissertation shows that cold-blooded vertebrates are potential hosts, in which EEEV may persist over the winter months in a temperate climate. Also shown is that EEEV remains genetically homogenous and highly conserved in the Southeastern US.

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