Bioinformatics Education Dissemination: Reaching Out, Connecting and Knitting-together


WNV is a small, enveloped virus with a positive sense single stranded RNA. This strand can act directly as mRNA and its genome consists of a single open reading frame.

WNV is a member of the Flaviviridae related to yellow fever. It is an arborvirus ( ar thropod bo rne) that arrived in New York City in 1999 and has been spreading across the US, Canada, and Mexico ever since. West Nile is transmitted primarily by mosquitoes that feed on birds. High viral titers found in many bird species make them reservoir hosts for this disease. Other vertebrates often serve as incidental hosts. Variations in enzootic vectors, bridging vectors, avian hosts, climate, and behavior all influence the likelihood that the human population is at risk. Many intriguing research data sets exist for questions raised about tracking the virus.

In humans, symptoms of WNV are subclinical in 80% of those infected. About 1 in 150 ends up with encephalitis. Viremia, the period of time that the virus is active, is usually quite short - six days or less. The amount of genetic material produced from the virus (viral titer) is also quite low less than 5,000 copies per ml of blood. Other viral encephalitis patients have up to 25,000,000 copies per ml of blood. Nevertheless, human to human transmission through blood and organ donation as well as during pregnancy or nursing has been reported. Screening tests including nucleic acid amplification as well as antibody detection have been developed.

Medical research data add to the rich problem space that is available for investigating WNV. In addition to sequence information, images, maps, epidemiological reports, bird counts, etc. are easily accessible on line. Global and historical data since WNV was first isolated in Uganda in 1937 extend the possibilities for working with WNV.

CDC: West Nile Virus Homepage

Audubon fact pages



Replication and production


White stork info

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