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Publication Date


First Advisor

Steven A. Williams

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Biological Sciences


Ross river virus, Mosquitoes, Infectious diseases, Public health, Diagnostics, Surveillance, Arbovirus, Virus diseases-Australia-Testing, Polymerase chain reaction, Mosquitoes as carriers of disease, Viruses-Diagnosis


With over 5,000 infections annually, Ross River virus (RRV) is the most common mosquito-borne disease in Australia. RRV is an alphavirus endemic to Australia, Papua New Guinea, and parts of the South Pacific. Symptoms of RRV infection include fever, fatigue, and debilitating polyarthritis that is known to persist for long periods of time. RRV is transmitted by a broad range of mosquito vectors, with laboratory transmission confirmed in at least ten species of Aedes and Culex mosquitoes. In the absence of comprehensive diagnostic facilities, RRV was believed to be maintained in zoonotic cycles of transmission involving macropod marsupials (includes kangaroos and wallabies). The 1979-80 outbreak of RRV infection in the Pacific and the availability of comprehensive diagnostic facilities in Australia, provided strong evidence for cycles of human-mosquito-human transmission without a requirement for intermediate vertebrate hosts. Since the 1979-80 epidemic, there has been re-appearance of RRV transmission across the South Pacific. The likelihood of future outbreaks of RRV infection in endemic regions highlights the need for a sensitive and specific surveillance system to detect RRV infection in this region. To this end, we have designed and validated a real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) assay that specifically detects RRV at high sensitivity and differentiates RRV from other alphaviruses, including the genetically similar Getah virus. Our results support the use of this assay for the detection of RRV at low viral concentrations in mosquito vectors through the use of our molecular xenomonitoring platform.


2018 Rebecca Anne Kuzma. Access limited to the Smith College community and other researchers while on campus. Smith College community members also may access from off-campus using a Smith College log-in. Other off-campus researchers may request a copy through Interlibrary Loan for personal use




74 pages : illustrations (chiefly color), maps (1 color). Includes bibliographical references (pages 57-64)