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Californian Brain Inflammation: Bunyaviridae Structure, Transmission, and Disease

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  • 0:05 The Bunyaviridae Virus Family
  • 0:40 Bunyaviridae Structure…
  • 1:33 Viral Spread by Mosquitoes
  • 4:23 Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome
  • 5:18 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Find out how dangerous mosquitoes and rats can be as we take a look at several viruses they carry that cause everything from encephalitis to shortness of breath. We'll explore Rift Valley Fever, California Encephalitis, Hantavirus and La Crosse Encephalitis.

The Bunyaviridae Virus Family

Mosquitoes, flies and rodents. A lot of people don't like some or even all of those. Perhaps there is a reason for that. While the terrible sound of a mosquito, bite of a fly or the slithery tail of a rodent may freak you out, there's an even bigger concern here: the transmission of dangerous diseases to the human population. We'll explore how these three creatures impact the health and livelihood of people all over the world as we delve into the Bunyaviridae virus family.

Bunyaviridae Structure and Transmission

The majority of viruses in this family contain a single-stranded, negative sense RNA genome that is encased in a helical capsid, which is, in turn, surrounded by an envelope. These viruses are transmitted in general by arthropods, which are spineless animals that have a hard external skeleton, called an exoskeleton, jointed limbs and a segmented body.

Basically, creatures like insects, arachnids, crustaceans and so on are known collectively as arthropods. Since the majority of viruses in this family are transmitted by arthropod vectors, they are called 'arboviruses.' However, as we delve further into the lesson, you'll find out that one very famous virus in this family is actually transmitted by rodents!

Viral Spread by Mosquitoes

One of the reasons to hate mosquitoes, besides the terrible noise, bite and itching they cause, is because some of them carry something called the California encephalitis virus. This is a virus that causes neurological deficits, seizures and even coma in some of the people who are infected. This definition shouldn't come as a surprise since encephalitis is a word that means 'inflammation of the brain.' If your brain is inflamed, it cannot function properly, which can lead to neurological issues such as seizures.

Mosquitoes also transmit another very similar virus of this family, called the La Crosse encephalitis virus, which is a virus transmitted by infected mosquitoes that may negatively affect the nervous system and, in severe cases, cause death. Unfortunately, this virus has been implicated in causing recurrent seizures in people who have recovered from the initial signs of the disease.

One other super important virus of this family that is spread in part by mosquitoes is called the Rift Valley fever virus, which is a zoonotic virus primarily found in Africa, that, in severe cases, causes bleeding, shock and encephalitis. This virus can spread from an animal to a human by mosquitoes that drink infected blood from an animal.

In addition, humans can get this virus by coming into contact with the contaminated bodily fluids and tissues of animals. Like with the La Crosse encephalitis virus, this virus may have complications after recovery, such as permanent blindness. Another major problem with this virus is that it may lead to economic devastation in already economically sensitive areas due to its impact on regional livestock. With these three viruses in mind, it should come as no surprise that the incidence, or occurrence of these viral diseases, increases in warmer weather and when there is abundant rainfall that creates stagnant water - the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes.

The three viruses I just mentioned are just some of the viruses that cause arboviral encephalitis, or encephalitis caused by viruses spread by arthropods. In order to try and stop people from getting infected by the arboviruses that cause encephalitis, the U.S. government spends about $150 million per year on activities related to mosquito population control, all in order to keep us safe and healthy.

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