Date of Completion

Spring 5-25-2023

Thesis Advisor(s)

Dr. Dong-Hun Lee, Dr. Guillermo R. Risatti, Dr. Paulo H. Verardi

Honors Major



Animal Diseases | Epidemiology | Other Public Health | Veterinary Infectious Diseases | Virus Diseases


West Nile Virus (WNV) causes a zoonotic disease. WNV was first isolated in Uganda in 1937 and has since become an endemic in countries such as North, South, and Central America [1]. According to the Connecticut Department of Public Health, an average of 8 cases of WNV in humans have been reported since the year 2000 [2]. In this study, we focused on the genetic characterization of the viral genomic RNA of WNVs circulating in birds and mammals in the New England region. Following that aim, the complete genome sequence of two WNVs was obtained via next-generation sequencing. One sample originated from the State of Massachusetts obtained from an alpaca (Vicugna pacos). The other sample originated from the State of Connecticut obtained from an American crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos).

Analysis of the obtained sequences revealed that WNV 21-3957/USA CT/CROW/2021 has similarities to viruses found in mosquitos (Culex sp., Culiseta sp., Aedes sp., and Culex pipiens), and to a virus detected in wild birds (blue jay) in USA. WNV 21-3728/USA MA/Alpaca/2021 detected in the alpaca has similarities to WNV detected in mosquitoes (Culex sp., Culiseta sp., Culex quinquefasciatus), wild birds (Spirus tristis), and humans, in the United States (New York, Illinois, and Texas). Future surveillance and genome sequencing of WNV in both mosquitoes and mammals is important to track the transmission and emergence of new variants, as well as monitor the evolution of the virus.