FEB 11, 2017 2:33 PM PST

Researchers Discuss Vector-Borne Viral Diseases

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

The American Society for Microbiology held a meeting on Emerging Diseases Research. This video features two speakers, Rebekah Kading and Wyndham Lathem, discussing the work they do on pathogens that cause Rift Valley Fever and bubonic plague. Especially because of global travel, scientists have some concern about the spread of such diseases to many parts of the world, which they discuss in the video.

Rift Valley Fever is caused by a virus and while it primarily affects animals, it can also cause illness in humans. According to the World Health Organization, there have been around ten outbreaks of the illness in humans since 2000 in various parts of the world, primarily in Africa but also in the Middle East. The presentation in humans is widely varied, and the illness can cause fatalities; it appears that the virus has a fatality rate around one percent, but in some outbreaks it has been much higher. There are several forms of plague discussed in the video, around the 32nd minute.

Rift Valley Fever virus is vector-borne, meaning it can be transmitted from animals to humans by another agent. Mosquitoes are probably the best known vector, but others are ticks, sandflies and fleas. Fleas are the vector for plague. According to the WHO, over one billion illness cases and one million deaths occur because of vector-borne diseases every year. As such, research into these diseases is a priority, and these scientists know that we are constantly being reminded that emerging diseases could strike with devastating consequences.
About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on 28 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 60 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
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