Emergence of a virulent strain of West Nile virus causing fatal equine encephalitis in South Eastern Australia (2012–2015)
In early 2011 an unprecedented outbreak of equine encephalitis occurred in horses in south-eastern Australia with over 1,000 cases and a fatality rate of 15%. Clinical signs were consistent with equine West
Nile virus (WNV) encephalitis described in the US. Sequencing of viral isolates revealed that the aetiological agent was a new strain of WNV, most closely related to the Australian subtype Kunjin. This project seeks to investigate the emergence and impact of this virulent virus by elucidating its origins and the biology and pathogenesis of infections. We will also assess novel diagnostic and vaccine technologies to more effectively
deal with future outbreaks and provide options for the control of this disease in horses.