Faculty Advisor

Rulfs, Jill


Influenza A is a virus that can infect a wide range of hosts and thus has the potential to cause widespread infection. Due to urban interactions between avian and rodent species it is possible that the common brown rat, Rattus norvegicus could become a transmission vector, triggering an influenza epidemic or pandemic. To test the potential for viral transmission, samples taken post mortem as swabs and tissue samples from urban rats collected in the city of Boston were tested for the virus using RNA extraction and PCR. Preliminarily positive results were obtained from lung tissue and oronasal swab samples and used to inoculate chicken eggs for viral amplification. Using current methodologies, no virus was detected. Future studies may focus on other model systems for viral amplification.


Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Date Accepted

April 2019


Biology and Biotechnology

Project Type

Major Qualifying Project



Advisor Department

Biology and Biotechnology