Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Dr. John M. Thomas III

Second Advisor

Dr. Robert Dearth

Third Advisor

Dr. John VandeBerg


Zika virus (ZIKV) rose as a major public health concern due to the congenital abnormalities of infants born to infected mothers during the 2015 Latin American outbreak. While animal models such as transgenic mice and nonhuman primates are used to study ZIKV pathogenesis, they display various limitations. Additionally, the persistence and tissue distribution of long-term ZIKV infection remains unknown. We describe the laboratory opossum, Monodelphis domestica, as a potential new model for ZIKV pathogenesis research to address these issues. We utilized immunohistochemistry, RT-PCR, and ELISA to show that: infant animals inoculated intracerebrally were susceptible to infection, ZIKV infection persisted through juvenile age in the brain, sex organs, and spleen, and that some animals developed an immune response to ZIKV infection.


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