2012 saw a surge of West Nile Virus infections, particularly in the central United States. What exactly is West Nile Virus and why do outbreaks occur?
This episode was filmed at the headquarters of the American Society for Microbiology during a "Microbes After Hours" event on May 6, 2013.
West Nile virus was first detected in North America until 1999 when an outbreak occurred in New York City. In the next five years, West Nile virus swept across the continent, reaching the Pacific shore in 2004. Like other Flaviviruses, West Nile is an "arthropod-borne virus" or "arbovirus". Its transmission and the completion of its life cycle critically depends on the feeding activities of mosquitos, who transmit the virus as they feed on the blood of infected animals Despite the incidence of infection among humans, however, Homo sapiens are actually dead-end hosts for the West Nile virus. Indeed, birds are the primary amplifying hosts and their migratory patterns are thought to have promoted the rapid spread of the virus to new habitats.
Guest speakers include:
Dr. Lyle Petersen
Lyle R. Petersen, M.D., M.P.H., has served as the director of the Division of Vector-Borne Diseases since 2004. Dr. Petersen began his training at the University of California, San Diego where he received an undergraduate degree in biology. He then studied medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. After medical school, Dr. Petersen completed an internship and residency in internal medicine at Stanford University, CDC's Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) applied epidemiology training program, CDC's Preventive Medicine Residency Program, and a masters of public health program at Emory University. He served in several positions at CDC before joining the Division of Vector-borne Diseases, first as Deputy Director for Science and then Director. He is the author of more than 175 scientific publications and has received a number of scientific awards. His current research focuses on the epidemiology of arboviral and bacterial vector-borne zoonoses.
Dr. Roberta DeBiasi
Roberta Lynn DeBiasi, MD, FIDSA, is Associate Professor of Pediatrics at George Washington University School of Medicine, Acting Chief and Attending Physician in the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Children's National Medical Center, and investigator at Children's Research Institute in the Center for Translational Science in Washington, D.C. A fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) and a member of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society (PIDS), she is also a past recipient of IDSA's Young Investigator Award.
Dr. DeBiasi's research expertise includes basic science as well as clinical/translational research in several areas. She is currently the Principal Investigator for several clinical research projects and trials, focusing on improved treatments for viral encephalitis, influenza, neonatal herpes simplex virus, congenital cytomegalovirus, and adenovirus in normal and immunocompromised children. An active investigator in the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) Collaborative Antiviral Study Group, through the National Institutes of Health (NIH), she also performs research on community acquired pneumonia and hospital acquired infections with multiple drug resistant organisms. Her basic research focused on mechanisms of viral pathogenesis and the development of new treatments for viral myocarditis. She is the author of original research, review articles, and book chapters focusing on severe viral infections, including viral myocarditis, encephalitis, meningitis, West Nile Virus, and adenovirus in patients with compromised immune systems.
Dr. DeBiasi also treats immunocompetent and immunocompromised children hospitalized with severe infections at Children's National Medical Center in Washington.