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June 30, 2004

ADVISORY
U-M experts available to discuss Rift Valley fever

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is encouraging people to know the symptoms of Rift Valley fever, a mosquito-borne illness with no approved vaccine and a human mortality rate of about 1 percent. While not currently found in the U.S., the possibility exists that it could be introduced, as recently occurred with the West Nile virus.

The University of Michigan has experts available to discuss Rift Valley fever. They include:

Sonja Gerrard, assistant professor of epidemiology at the U-M School of Public Health, studies the Rift Valley virus with a particular interest in vaccine development. She had two papers published in 2002 on Rift Valley fever virus. Although the virus is not in the U.S., Gerrard said, “we do have everything that Rift Valley needs to become an epidemic.” From 2000-2003, Gerrard was a fellow with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of Viral and Rickettsial Diseases. For more on Gerrard: http://www.sph.umich.edu/faculty/gerrard.html

Mark L. Wilson, associate professor of epidemiology and director of the Global Health Program at the U-M School of Public Health, is an expert in infectious diseases, including the analysis of how transmission works, the evolution of systems involving hosts and parasites, and the factors that determine human risk. He lived in Senegal, West Africa for four years, during which one of his emphases was Rift Valley fever. He is interested in a wide range of emerging diseases including Lyme disease and malaria.

For more on Wilson: http://www.sph.umich.edu/faculty/wilsonml.html

CDC information on Rift Valley fever: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvrd/spb/mnpages/dispages/rvf.htm

World Health Organization information on Rift Valley fever: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs207/en/

Contact: Colleen Newvine
Phone: (734) 647-4411
E-mail: cnewvine@umich.edu