Lassa fever is a zoonotic disease caused by Lassa virus. The disease is endemic in West Africa. Hemorrhagic courses of Lassa fever are associated with high mortality. It is estimated that 100,000 to 500,000 infections occur each year because of transmission of Lassa virus from its rodent reservoir (Mastomys natalensis) to human. Rodent control measures could reduce the risk of rodent-human transmission. However, the dynamics of virus-rodent interaction is poorly understood. This information is crucial to design efficient and cost-effective rodent control measures. Therefore, objective of the research project is to enhance knowledge on rodent ecology and molecular taxonomy as well as on microphylogeny, transmission, and persistence pattern of the virus in the rodent population. A second objective is the improvement of laboratory skills of the applicant in the area of virology and molecular biology to facilitate a multidisciplinary Lassa virus research linking rodent ecology, molecular epidemiology, diagnostics, and virology.
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