ACAV Adds 'Zoonotic' to Its Name

Posted 12 February 2021

The ACAV Executive Council has revised the name of its subgroup to the American Committee on Arthropod-Borne and Zoonotic Viruses. The acronym "ACAV" will remain unaltered despite the addition of "Zoonotic" to the subgroup's name.  
"ACAV has a long history of scientists and physicians working on arboviruses and zoonotic viruses, including hemorrhagic fever viruses such as Lassa, Machupo, Guanarito, Ebola, and more recently SARS-CoV-2 (to name a few)," said ACAV Chair Patricia Aguilar, PhD. "Our overall goal is to reduce the global burden of diseases caused by arboviruses and zoonotic viruses of global importance. We want our name to reflect who we are." 

Learn morea about ACAV and the name change in this Q&A with Dr. Aguilar:

You said that ACAV has a long history of scientists and physicians working on arboviruses and zoonotic viruses. Tell us more about that history. 
ACAV was founded in 1959 by distinguished virologists, including Max Theiler, Jordi Casals, Delphine Clarke, Richard Taylor, Smithburn, Loring Whitman, and Sonja Buckley. The history of these early days and decades of work is genuinely remarkable. These investigators established the groundwork for the seminal studies with arboviruses and arbovirology as a field of study. Many of the assays we use nowadays to differentiate and classify viruses were established by these members. One of the most significant contributions from these early days was the development of the Yellow Fever 17D vaccine (developed by Max Theiler, who received a Nobel Prize for this accomplishment). This vaccine continues to be used to-date and is perhaps one of the most effective vaccines available. While the contributions of ACAV members to arbovirology are very well known, we cannot forget the work of ACAV “virus hunters” who have contributed to the discovery and characterization of many zoonotic viruses causing outbreaks of febrile hemorrhagic illnesses, including Machupo (Johnson and Mackenzie), Guanarito (Tesh and Shope), Lassa (Casals and Buckley), Nipah (Ksiazek and Peters) and Chapare (Ksiazek) viruses to name just a few. More recent work by our members during the current COVID-19 pandemic only highlights the fact that the expertise of ACAV members goes beyond arboviruses to include emergent zoonotic viruses. To properly reflect what we do and who we are, we decided to change our name to the American Committee on Arthropod-borne and Zoonotic viruses (ACAV).

What qualifies the scientists and physicians of ACAV as experts on arboviruses and zoonotic viruses?
ACAV members have extensive knowledge, skills and experience in arboviruses and zoonotic viruses.  Many of our members are involved in fieldwork and outbreak investigations, as well as basic, clinical and translational research. ACAV members also serve as consultants on arboviruses and zoonotic viruses for key international agencies, including the WHO, so our expertise is recognized worldwide. 

Looking ahead 5 - 10 years, what are the goals for ACAV? 
Our goal is to continue to expand our global presence and provide leadership for the scientific and broader communities regarding arbovirus and zoonotic virus research and response. More importantly, we want to play a significant role in training the next generation of scientists working on arboviruses and zoonotic viruses. We also want to ensure that ACAV history prevails throughout the years. We plan to accomplish this goal by creating an ACAV history group that our former Chair, David Morens, will lead.

What would you say to a scientist/physician early in their professional career to encourage them to join ACAV?
ACAV has many resources to offer. Our members share a common goal, which is to advance knowledge on arboviruses and zoonotic viruses. If you work with or are interested in these viruses, there is no better place than our group to learn from talented scientists.