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31326 Castanet Tolosan CEDEX - France

Dernière mise à jour : Mai 2018

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Our research projects

Fundamental and applied virology to understand, prevent and control an emerging zoonotic arbovirus: the Rift Valley fever virus

Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) is a zoonotic haemorrhagic fever virus belonging to the genus Phlebovirus and the family Phenuiviridae. Outbreaks of RVF epidemics are mainly located in the sub-Saharan Africa, but in recent years they have spread to Egypt and the Arabian Peninsula, resulting in thousands of deaths and major economic losses in the countries concerned. RVFV is also responsible for abortions and mortality in animals, mainly sheep and cattle. Infections in humans cause a disease limited to acute and febrile symptoms; however, some patients develop fulminant hepatitis associated with haemorrhage fever or sometimes encephalitis.

Outbreaks of RVF have serious consequences for human and veterinary health, but also in terms of economic impact on many sectors of activity. RVFV is an arbovirus (arthropod-borne virus) transmitted by the hematophagous arthropods, in particular, the Aedes and Culex mosquitoes. The presence of these competent vectors capable of transmitting the RVFV in Europe and France represents a real threat for the human population as well as for livestock. The World Health Organization has classified the RVFV in the priority list of ten emerging pathogens likely to cause serious epidemics in the future. There is therefore a real need to better understand the biology of this virus in its mammalian hosts and insect vectors and also to find innovative solutions to prevent and combat against this virus.

Three complementary research projects are being developed in the team:

  • A fundamental research project, led by Dr Frédérick Arnaud  aims to characterize viral factors and molecular mechanisms modulating the pathogenesis and vectorization of phleboviruses of which RVFV;
  • An applied project, led by Dr Saw-See Hong, aims at developing antivirals and innovative diagnostic tools to combat RVFV, in collaboration with labs in Lyon working on other hemorrhagic fever viruses such as the Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus;
  • A field research project, led by Dr Maxime Ratinier, which aims to analyze and understand the key parameters of the process of emergence, spread and persistence of RVFV, and particularly the influence of the genetic diversity of the different circulating virus strains during the epidemics in West Africa.