West Nile Virus

How Zika infects the placenta

Zika virus can infect and replicate in immune cells from the placenta, without killing them, scientists have discovered. The finding may explain how the virus can pass through the placenta of a pregnant woman, on its way ...

15 hours ago
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How antibodies access neurons to fight infection

Yale scientists have solved a puzzle of the immune system—how antibodies enter the nervous system to control viral infections. Their finding may have implications for the prevention and treatment of a range of conditions, ...

May 18, 2016
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West Nile virus (WNV) is a virus of the family Flaviviridae. Part of the Japanese encephalitis (JE) antigenic complex of viruses, it is found in both tropical and temperate regions. It mainly infects birds, but is known to infect humans, horses, dogs, cats, bats, chipmunks, skunks, squirrels, domestic rabbits, crows, robins, crocodiles and alligators. The main route of human infection is through the bite of an infected mosquito. Approximately 90% of West Nile Virus infections in humans are without any symptoms.

Image reconstructions and cryoelectron microscopy reveal a 45–50 nm virion covered with a relatively smooth protein surface. This structure is similar to the dengue fever virus; both belong to the genus Flavivirus within the family Flaviviridae. The genetic material of WNV is a positive-sense, single strand of RNA, which is between 11,000 and 12,000 nucleotides long; these genes encode seven non-structural proteins and three structural proteins. The RNA strand is held within a nucleocapsid formed from 12 kDa protein blocks; the capsid is contained within a host-derived membrane altered by two viral glycoproteins.

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