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​Infectious Diseases

Infectious zoonotic diseases–those that can spread between animals and humans–play an enormous role in public health. Our research explores the links between biodiversity, genetic diversity, and socio-economic factors and disease transmission. We use these scientific findings to generate mathematical models that improve our ability to predict when and how diseases will jump from animals to humans–and how to prevent or mitigate those diseases. We’ve research high profile diseases like Ebola, Zika, and West Nile, as well as less well-known pathogens like monkey pox, avian flu, and avian malaria.

PROJECTS

avian influenza virus in north american migratory birds

Avian Influenza Virus in North American Migratory Birds

Overview The UCLA Center for Tropical Research (CTR) is at the forefront of research and surveillance of avian influenza virus (bird flu or avian flu) in wild birds. CTR has led avian influenza virus (AIV) surveys of migratory land birds in both North America and Central Africa. Recently, CTR was awarded a four-year project from...

avian malaria

Avian Malaria

Malaria parasites use vertebrate hosts for the asexual stages of their life cycle and Dipteran vectors for both the sexual and asexual development, but the literature on avian malaria parasites remains biased towards bird-parasite associations. Our work samples vectors/birds to provide information about status of infection of both host and vector.

ebola

Ebola

The Center for Tropical Research is investigating what may be the environmental drivers of infectious diseases, and what might trigger outbreaks during particular times or conditions. In collaboration with Dr. Rick Schoenberg, chair of the the Department of Statistics at UCLA, our team is using novel models to understand ebola outbreaks.

west nile virus

West Nile Virus

West Nile virus (WNV) has spread rapidly in North America, threatening wildlife and posing serious health risks to humans. In order to better understand how the distribution of WNV will further impact populations, we model the incidence of WNV infections under current conditions, and use these to predict where the disease may occur in the future.

Publications

Persistent impacts of West Nile virus on North American bird populations

George, T. L.; Harrigan, R. J.; LaManna, J. A.; DeSante, D. F.; Saracco, J. F.; Smith, T. B.

Published Work | 2015 | Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112(46), 14290–14294


Avian influenza surveillance in Central and West Africa, 2010-2014

Fuller, T. L.; Ducatez, M. F.; Njabo, K. Y.; Couancy-Hymann, E.; Chasar, T.; Aplogan, G. L.; Lao, S.; Awoume, F.; Tehou, A.; Langeois, Q.; Krauss, S.; Smith, T. B.

Published Work | 2014 | Epidemiology and Infection 143(10), 2205-2212


Coevolutionary patterns and diversification of avian malaria parasites in African Sunbirds (Family Nectariniidae)

Lauron, E. J.; Loiseau, C.; Bowie, R. C.; Spicer, G. S.; Smith, T. B.; Melo, M.; Sehgal, R. N.

Published Work | 2014 | Parasitology 142(5), 635-647


Identifying areas with a high risk of human infection with the avian influenza (H7N9) virus in East Asia

Fuller, T. L.; Havers, F.; Xui, C.; Fang, L.; Cao, W.; Shu, Y.; Widdowson, M.; Smith, T. B.

Published Work | 2014 | Journal of Infection 69(2), 174–181


New host and lineage diversity of avian haemosporidia in the Northern Andes

Harrigan, R. J.; Sedan, R.; Chasar, A. C.; Chaves, J.; Nguyen, J. T.; Whitaker, A.; Smith, T. B.

Published Work | 2014 | Evolutionary Applications 7(7), 799–811


Spillover of pH1N1 to swine in Cameroon: an investigation of risk factors

Larison, B.; Njabo, K. Y.; Chasar, A. C.; Fuller, T.; Harrigan, R.; Smith, T. B.

Published Work | 2014 | BMC Veterinary Research 10(55)


A continental risk assessment of West Nile virus under climate change

Harrigan, R. J.; Thomassen, H.; Buermann, W.; Smith, T. B.

Published Work | 2014 | Global Change Biology 2014, 20 (8), 2417–2425


Putative human and avian risk factors for avian influenza virus infections in backyard poultry in Egypt

Sheta, B. M.; Fuller, T.; Larison, B.; Njabo, K. Y.; Ahmed, A. S.; Chasar, A.; Aziz, S. A.; Khidr, A. A.; Elbokl, M. M.; Habbak, L. Z.; Smith, T. B.

Published Work | 2014 | Veterinary Microbiology 168(1), 208–213


Metapopulation dynamics enable persistence of Influenza A, including A/H5N1, in poultry

Hosseini, P. R.; Fuller, T.; Harrigan, R.; Zhao, D.; Arriola, C. S.; Gonzales, A.; Miller, M. J.; Xiao, X.; Smith, T. B.; Holland Jones, J.; Daszak, P.

Published Work | 2014 | PLoS ONE 8(12)


Novel statistical methods for integrating genetic and stable isotope data to infer individual-level migratory connectivity

Rundel, C. W.; Wunder, M. B.; Alvarado, A. H.; Ruegg, K. C.; Harrigan, R.; Schuh, A.; Kelly, J. F.; Siegal, R. B.; DeSante, D. F.; Smith, T. B.; Novembre, J.

Published Work | 2013 | Molecular Ecology 22(16), 4163–4176


Predicting hotspots for influenza virus reassortment

Fuller, T. L.; Gilbert, M.; Martin, V.; Cappelle, J.; Hosseini, P.; Njabo, K. Y.; Aziz, S. A.; Xiao, X.; Peter, D.; Smith, T. B.

Published Work | 2013 | Emerging Infectious Diseases 19(4), 581–588


Feeding habits of culicine mosquitos in the Cameroon lowland forests based on stable isotopes and blood meal analyses

Njabo, K. Y.; Smith, T. B.; Yohannes, E.

Published Work | 2013 | Journal of Parasitology and Vector Biology 5, 6–12


A national study of individuals who handle migratory birds for evidence of avian and swine influenza virus infections

Shafir, S. C.; Fuller, T.; Smith, T. B.; Rimoin, A. W.

Published Work | 2012 | Journal of Clinical Virology 54(4), 364–367


Pandemic A/H1N1/2009 influenza virus in Swine, Cameroon, 2010

Njabo, K. Y.; Fuller, T. L.; Chasar, A.; Pollinger, J. P.; Cattoli, G.; Terregino, C.; Monne, I.; Reynes, J.; Njouom, R.; Smith, T. B.

Published Work | 2012 | Veterinary Microbiology 156, 189–192


The ecology of emerging infectious diseases in migratory birds: an assessment of the role of climate change and priorities for future research

Fuller, T.; Bensch, S.; Muller, I.; Novembre, J.; Perez-Tris, J.; Ricklefs, R. E.; Smith, T. B.; Waldenstrom, J.

Published Work | 2012 | EcoHealth 9, 80–88


Host and habitat specialization of avian malaria in Africa

Loiseau, C.; Harrigan, R. J.; Robert, A.; Bowie, R. C.; Thomassen, H. A.; Smith, T. B.

Published Work | 2011 | Molecular Ecology 21(2), 431–441


Rapid influenza A detection and quantitation in birds using a one-step real-time reverse transcriptase PCR and high resolution melting

Curd, E.; Pollinger, J.; Toffelmier, E.; Smith, T. B.

Published Work | 2011 | Journal of Virological Methods 176, 125–130


New avian Haemoproteus species (Haemosporida: Haemoproteidae) from African birds, with a critique of the use of host taxonomic information in hemoproteid classification

Iezhova, T. A.; Dodge, M.; Sehgal, R. N.; Smith, T. B.; Valkiūnas, G.

Published Work | 2011 | Journal of Parasitology 97(4), 682–694


Nonspecific patterns of vector, host and avian malaria parasite associations in a Central African rainforest

Njabo, K. Y.; Cornel, A. J.; Bonneaud, C.; Toffelmier, E.; Sehgal, R. N.; Valkiunas, G.; Russell, A. F.; Smith, T. B.

Published Work | 2010 | Molecular Ecology 20(5), 1049–1061


Economic conditions predict prevalence of West Nile virus

Harrigan, R. J.; Thomassen, H. A.; Buermann, W.; Cummings, R. F.; Kahn, M. E.; Smith, T. B.

Published Work | 2010 | PLoS ONE 5(11)


Spatially explicit predictions of blood parasites in a widely distributed African rainforest bird

Sehgal, R. N.; Buermann, W.; Harrigan, R. J.; Bonneaud, C.; Loiseau, C.; Chasar, A.; Sepil, I.; Valkiunas, G.; Iezhova, T.; Saatchi, S.; Smith, T. B.

Published Work | 2010 | Procedings of the Royal Society B 278, 1025–1033


Mapping the risk of avian influenza in wild birds in the U.S.

Fuller, T.; Saatchi, S.; Curd, E. E.; Toffelmier, E.; Thomassen, H.; Buermann, W.; DeSante, D. F.; Nott, M. P.; Saracco, J. F.; Ralph, C. J.; Alexander, J. D.; Pollinger, J. P.; Smith, T. B.

Published Work | 2010 | BMC Infectious Diseases 10(187)


Haemoproteus cyanomitrae sp. nov. (Haemosporida: Haemoproteidae) from a Widespread African Songbird, the Olive Sunbird, Cyanomitra olivacea

Iezhova, T. A.; Valkiūnas, G.; Loiseau, C.; Smith, T. B.; Sehgal, R. N.

Published Work | 2010 | Journal of Parasitology 96(1), 136–143


Spatial variation of haemosporidian parasite infection in African rainforest bird species

Loiseau, C.; Iezhova, T. A.; Balkiunas, G.; Chasar, A.; Hutchinson, A.; Buermann, W.; Smith, T. B.; Sehgal, R. N.

Published Work | 2010 | Journal of Parasitology 96, 21–29


Prevalence and diversity patterns of avian blood parasites in degraded African rainforest habitats

Chasar, A.; Loiseau, C.; Valkiūnas, G.; Iezhova, T.; Smith, T. B.; Sehgal, R. N.

Published Work | 2009 | Molecular Ecology 18(19), 4121–4133


Coquillettidia (Culicidae, Diptera) mosquitoes as new natural vectors of avian malaria in Africa

Njabo, K. Y.; Cornel, A. J.; Sehgal, R. N.; Loiseau, C.; Buermann, W.; Harrigan, R. J.; Pollinger, J.; Valkiūnas, G.; Smith, T. B.

Published Work | 2009 | Malaria Journal 8


The prevalence of avian Plasmodium is higher in undisturbed tropical forests of Cameroon

Bonneaud, C.; Sepil, I.; Milá, B.; Buermann, W.; Pollinger, J.; Sehgal, R. N.; Valkiūnas, G.; Iezhova, T. A.; Saatchi, S.; Smith, T. B.

Published Work | 2009 | Journal of Tropical Ecology 25, 439–447


New malaria parasites of the subgenus Novyella in African rainforest birds, with remarks on their high prevalence, classification and diagnostics

Valkiūnas, G.; Iezhova, T. A.; Loiseau, C.; Chasar, A.; Smith, T. B.; Sehgal, R. N.

Published Work | 2008 | Parasitology Research 104, 1061–1077


New species of haemosporidian parasites (Haemosporidia) from African rainforest birds, with remarks on their classification

Valkiūnas, G.; Iezhova, T. A.; Loiseau, C.; Chasar, A.; Smith, T. B.; Sehgal, R. N.

Published Work | 2008 | Parasitology Research 103, 1213–1228


Molecular evidence for host specificity of parasitic nematode microfilariae in some African rainforest birds

Sehgal, R. N.; Jones, H. I.; Smith, T. B.

Published Work | 2005 | Molecular Ecology 14(13), 3977–3988


Further observations on the blood parasites of birds in Uganda

Valkiunas, G.; Sehgal, R. N.; Iezhova, T. A.; Smith, T. B.

Published Work | 2005 | Journal of Wildlife Diseases 41(3), 580–587


Blood parasites of some West African rainforest birds

Sehgal, R. N.; Jones, H. I.; Smith, T. B.

Published Work | 2005 | Journal of Veterinary Medical Science 67(3), 295–301


Leucocytozoon (Apicomplexa: Leucocytozoide) from West African birds, with descriptions of two species

Jones, H. I.; Sehgal, R. N.; Smith, T. B.

Published Work | 2005 | Journal of Parasitology 91(2), 397–401


A comparative analysis of PCR-based detection methods for avian malaria

Richard, F. A.; Sehgal, R. N.; Jones, H. I.; Smith, T. B.

Published Work | 2002 | Journal of Parasitology 88(4), 819–822


Host specificity and prevalence of Trypanosoma in the African avifauna: a molecular approach

Sehgal, R. N.; Jones, H. I.; Smith, T. B.

Published Work | 2001 | Molecular Ecology 10(9), 2319–2327