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Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases

News and Events Highlights

CEEZAD is a public source for the latest information on developments related to high-consequence foreign animal, emerging and zoonotic disease threats. 

June 15, 2018

Richt Lab members hear report on latest ASF developments in South Africa

An expert on the spread of African swine fever (ASF) in South Africa updated members of the Richt Lab on the latest research into that disease during a June 15 presentation at Kansas State University.

Dr. Armanda Bastos is a professor of veterinary microbiology and conservation genetics at the Mammal Research Institute of the Department of Zoology and Entomology at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. She spoke with Richt Lab researchers following her June 12 presentation at the workshop on “Diagnostics of Endemic and Emerging Diseases: Beyond The Status Quo,” held at Kansas State University. The conference was co-sponsored by the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Diseases (CEEZAD) and the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (KSVDC).

During her presentation, Dr. Bastos reported on research into the prevalence of ASF virus in the species of tick that is responsible for maintenance of the virus, in the northern regions of South Africa, notably the Kruger National Park (KNP) and the Mkuze Game Reserve (MGR). She said recent surveys indicate that the prevalence of ASF in Ornithodoros ticks in those regions is slightly lower in the dry season, than similar surveys conducted 20 years ago, with fewer than two percent of that species of tick in found to be carrying the virus in KNP and none in the MGR. The ticks transmit the virus to warthogs by infesting their burrows and feeding on their blood.

Based on the new research, Dr. Bastos told the Richt Lab members, several of whom are engaged in ASF research, that with the apparent disappearance of the virus from the MGR tick population that eradication may be “do-able” in small game reserves. Ongoing surveillance of infected tick populations is needed to ensure that ASF control zone policies and practices in South Africa are flexible and aligned with changing field situation.

Although statistically few of the ticks were infected, Dr. Bastos said researchers found that ASF sera prevalence among warthogs in the studied areas generally exceeded 80 percent. The ability of the ticks to infect warthogs is exacerbated by the long lifespan of the ticks, which – although not fully studied – has been estimated to be as long as 15 to 20 years.

June 13, 2018

Novel technologies focus of diagnostics conference

Key figures involved in the development of new diagnostic technologies presented the latest advancements in those areas during the “Diagnostics of Endemic and Emerging Diseases: Beyond the Status Quo” conference held June 11-13 at the Alumni Center at Kansas State University. The conference, was co-sponsored by the Center of Excellence For Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases, CEEZAD, and by the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

Seven international experts presented material during the June 13 portion of the presentations. The seven were: Dr. Doug Marthaler, associate professor at Kansas State University; Dr. Rebecca Wilkes, an associate professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Georgia; Dr. Christie Mayo, assistant professor and head of the virology and sample receiving section at Colorado State University’s Diagnostic Medicine Center; Willy Valdivia, CEO of Orion Integrated Biosciences; Dr. Thomas Wang, president of GeneReach USA; Dr. Joe Russell, a senior scientist with MRI Global; and Dr. Jessie Trujillo, a senior research associate and microbiologist with the Kansas State University-based Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases.

Here is a summary of what each told the conference:

Dr. Marthaler: He discussed developments in the areas of genetics, bioinformatics, nanoparticle technology, and in situ hybridization. “Next generation sequencing (NGS) is changing diagnostics by using metagenomic and targeted approaches to identify new pathogens,” he said. That, he added, could increase both the sensitivity and specificity of NGS diagnostics.

Dr. Wilkes: She remarked on a shift toward syndromic testing using multiplex PCR and other novel multiplex NGS techniques. That, however, invites a concern about possessing too much information. “The problem with metagenomics is that you find everything in the sample, most of which will be the host.” She discussed methods of separating out what a scientist is actually looking for from the other material. Dr. Wilkes emphasized that cost-efficiency, reduction of hands-on time, and automation to reduce the potential for contamination are also important.

Dr. Mayo: She said sequencing techniques “offer enormous potential in nearly every area of agriculture,” but added that practical limitations often constrain the utility of those techniques. She said her lab is now working on a project that utilizes targeted enrichment of pathogens enabling scientists to better interpret and scale up their approach.

Valdivia: He noted that the U.S. confronts various security challenges, among them persistent, low-intensity conflict, natural infectious disease outbreaks, and the rise of non-state terrorist actors pursuing the use of biological weapons. Valdivia pointed out that there are more than 1,500 distinct infectious pathogens, and that it could take years for the intelligence community to understand the biothreat landscape and longer to develop countermeasures. His company’s focus is to introduce a unique approach integrating disparate data sources into a biodefense enterprise to support threat detection.

Wang: The president of GeneReach USA focused on his company’s efforts to develop diagnostic applications useful in aquaculture, which is a basis for much of the world’s diet. He noted that this endeavor poses numerous unique challenges, among them the water environment, in which diseases can spread rapidly, the absence of vaccine potential for certain species, the fact that quality control is hard to perform, and that there are no practical treatment protocols.  He said GeneReach is working with aquaculture-farmers on techniques “that have short turn-around time, that are easy to operate, and that are cost-effective.” He talked about the POCKITTM mobile PCR system his company developed to aid in the detection of transboundary diseases.

Russell: He discussed his involvement in efforts to develop an integrated, ultra-mobile laboratory workbench called “Mercury Lab” that can be used in field-forward molecular testing. He said the product is envisioned as enabling reproducibility, reliability and true portability for field-forward molecular biosurveillance workflows.

Trujillo: She presented the latest findings in the area of point-of-need detection of high-consequence pathogens, with a specific focus on Rift Valley Fever, FMD and ASF. Trujillo explained the use of the portable POCKITTM machine in those detection strategies, and reported on ongoing field testing in Africa. She said POCKITTM could be a tool in veterinary and public health settings as well as biodefense stockpiled to aid in surveillance and epidemiological studies.

June 12, 2018

NBAF on schedule for operational capability by December, 2022

A key administrator for the Department of Agriculture told scientists that the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility is on pace to be operational by the end of 2022.

Dr. Beth Lautner, associate deputy administrator for science, technology and analysis services for the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), told participants at a June 11-13 conference co-sponsored by the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases and Kansas State’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory that she expects all APHIS operations to be out of their present Plum Island home by August of 2023.

Dr. Lautner was a keynote speaker at the “Diagnostics of Endemic and Emerging Diseases Workshop: Beyond the Status Quo” conference held at the KSU Alumni Center.

She said the NBAF will be a substantial physical upgrade from APHIS’ present facilities at Plum Island, consisting of more than 700,000 square feet overall and more than 574,000 in the main lab building. “There is much more usable space (than at Plum Island),” she said. Dr. Lautner said Plum Island, which was built in the 1950s, “is at the end of its useful life with limited capabilities.”

Dr. Lautner said it would be important to develop partnerships that “extend the work of NBAF beyond the walls of the NBAF.”

The Department of Agriculture is expected to assume control of the NBAF from the Department of Homeland Security in May of 2021, although Dr. Lautner emphasized that move awaits formal approval by Congress. APHIS is one of the major arms of the USDA that will be conducting research at the NBAF. Dr. Lautner told conference participants that “Job 1 for us” is diagnostic testing, particularly of emerging and zoonotic diseases. She said scientists are “extremely excited” to have the ability to work in a BSL4 laboratory. That level of lab security – which permits work on potentially fatal diseases that affect animals and humans for which there is no cure or treatment -- will be one of the features of the NBAF. At present, the closest such facility is in Winnipeg, Canada

Dr. Lautner said that by the time the NBAF opens, she expects APHIS to expand its staffing from the present 45 at Plum Island to 78. The USDA’s Animal Research Service, which will also occupy the NBAF, is expected to hire as many as 60 of its own scientists, with additional post-doctoral workers driving its total toward approximately 90.

She said APHIS has already embarked on a program providing study aids to qualified students who agree to work at the NBAF for a stipulated period of time. “We want individuals who want to stay here, who look at this as a career opportunity,” she said.

She said the USDA has already established several transition planning teams, and is beginning to hire personnel. She added they will soon start moving science staff here, although she acknowledged that some members of the current Plum Island staff have indicated they do not plan to make the move.

June 12, 2018

International experts discussing potential for diagnostic advances against emerging threats

Experts in the emerging aspects of molecular and serological diagnostics presented the latest advancements in those areas during the “Diagnostics of Endemic and Emerging Diseases: Beyond the Status Quo” conference held June 11-13 at the Alumni Center at Kansas State University. The conference, was co-sponsored by the Center of Excellence For Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases, CEEZAD, and by the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

Seven international experts presented material during the June 12 afternoon portion of the presentations. The seven were: Dr. Kim Dodd, director of the Foreign Animal Disease and Diagnostic Laboratory at Plum Island, N.Y.; Dr. Alfonso Clavijo, executive director of the National Centres for Animal Disease at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency; Dr. Nicholas Haley, an assistant professor at Midwestern University; Dr. Thomas Briese, associate director of the Center For Infection and Immunity at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University in New York; Dr. Bill Wilson, a research microbiologist at the Arthropod-Borne Animal Disease Research Unit in Manhattan, Ks.; Dr. Bill Nelson, founder, chief scientist, president and CEO of Tetracore; and Dr. Armanda Bastos, a professor at the Mammal Research Institute of the Department of Zoology and Entomology at the University of Pretoria, South Africa.

Here is a synopsis of what each discussed:

Dr. Dodd: She noted that the laboratory she heads is a national reference laboratory for USDA Veterinary Services and for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network. It is currently the only diagnostic laboratory in the U.S. in which work is allowed with specific high-consequence foreign animal diseases such as foot and mouth disease.

Dr. Clavijo: His lab has a national mandate to provide scientific services for “the rapid and accurate identification of foreign animal diseases.” He said effective detection and control of transboundary animal diseases is reliant upon accurate diagnosis of clinical cases using laboratory tests together with an understanding of factors that impact on the epidemiology of the infectious agent.  He said the future of transboundary animal disease diagnostics is embracing a strategy that takes advantage of the range of conventional and evolving technologies.

Dr. Haley: He discussed advances in diagnostics involving prions – proteinaceous infectious particles -- and limitations of those tests to detect such problems as chronic wasting disease and bovine spongiform encephalopathy. Those limitations include the fact that testing must be post-mortem, that it is time-intensive, and that there are known shortcomings in sensitivity. He said novel prion amplification assays have shown promise in detecting very low levels of prions in various tissues and bodily fluids, although to date those tests have not been employed in diagnostic settings.

Dr. Briese: He reported on his research into serochip peptide arrays, which he said provide a unique approach to novel vaccination strategies and diagnostics. He also reported on an ongoing project that involves generating detailed information on antigens and epitopes of high-impact livestock pathogens.

Dr. Wilson: He reported on his research on the diagnostics of arthropod-borne viruses. One problem, he said, is that even after a midge acquires the virus, “you’re looking at five to six days before you can detect it.” As a consequence, he added, “we don’t even do studies until 10 to 14 days post-infection.” He emphasized that older diagnostic technologies remain useful, although new technologies “are evolving quickly.” He finds his own procedures “moving quickly” toward multiplex testing.

Dr. Nelson: His company, founded in 1998, does molecular testing, having developed numerous commercial assays. He asked whether the next diagnostic steps might involve development of a process that does not require sample extraction, thus reducing cost and time by approximately half. Dr. Nelson noted that Tetracore has already developed a set of reagents that can stand up to direct testing.

Dr. Bastos: She focused on African Swine Fever, a pathogen with potential impact on the U.S. pig industry. She noted previous outbreaks in Africa that spread to other regions of the world and took years to overcome. The problem, she said, is a global distribution of ticks, the vector, “and if they are near pigs they become very efficient hosts.” Although ASF prevalence in ticks is less than 1 percent, she said maintenance is high.

June 12, 2018

Progress reported in molecular and serological diagnostics

Experts in the field of molecular and serological diagnostics presented the latest advancements in those areas during the “Diagnostics of Endemic and Emerging Diseases: Beyond the Status Quo” conference held June 11-13 at the Alumni Center at Kansas State University. The conference, was co-sponsored by the Center of Excellence For Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases, CEEZAD, and by the Kansas State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

The session involved five speakers from academic and commercial entities involved in molecular and serological diagnostics. They were Dr. Sabrina Swenson, director of the Diagnostic Virology Laboratory at the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service of the USDA at Ames, Ia.; Dr. Dick Hesse, professor and director of diagnostic virology at Kansas State University; Dr. Gregg Hanzlicek, assistant professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University; Dr. Udeni Balasuriya, professor in the Department of Veterinary Science at the Maxwell H. Gluck Equine Research Center at the University of Kentucky; and Dr. Jim Rhoades, senior marketing manager for IDEXX Laboratories Inc.

Here are brief synopses of what each reported.

Dr. Swenson: She said that diagnosis of disease in domestic animals requires an understanding of expected clinical signs, shedding patterns of the infectious agent, and the immune response to the infectious agent. Timing of diagnostic sample collection, age of animal and vaccination status are also important. Maternal antibodies detected in the serum of the offspring can confuse the interpretation of test results. She said most vaccines produced in the U.S. result in the production of antibodies in an animal that can’t be differentiated from antibodies resulting from exposure to the infectious agent.

Dr. Hesse: He discussed a selection of diagnostic cases, findings and subsequent research activities. He also categorized what he referred to as “the four tools of diagnostics” – pathology, virology, serology and molecular analysis. In any investigation, Hesse said, “we want to know what is the frequency of this pathogen in the field?” He also told attendees that “if you can understand pathogen biology, you can devise tools to help understand what’s going on in the field “

Dr. Hanzlicek: He focused on Johne’s Disease, a disease of cattle responsible for an estimated $250 million damage to the dairy industry alone. He said numerous articles have been published suggesting that the organism that might be responsible for Johne’s Disease, MAP, might be zoonotic, meaning it can be transmitted from animals to humans.  He also noted that field testing for Johne’s Disease  is complicated depending on the type, what is being tested for and why?

Dr. Balasuriya: He discussed threats to the $122 billion equine industry in the U.S., involving a horse population estimated at 7.2 million. The threat of pathogenic incidence is made more complex, he noted, by the fact that horses “are globetrotters of the 21st century,” being shipped around the world for racing, breeding, work and other purposes. He said that although the classical assays are still very good, their utility is constrained by expense, laboriousness, extended time for results, and low-sensitivity.

Dr. Rhoades: He discussed the impact of disease on bovine herds, noting that data suggests about one-quarter of pregnancies are not carried to term. That is a key factor in disease-related economic losses to the cattle industry estimated at between $555 and $2,333 per animal. Rhoades reminded participants that “a non-pregnant cow is a pet.”

June 11, 2018

The importance of accurate necropsy procedures and diagnostics

Accurate diagnostics provide a key to analysis of the spread of infectious diseases, participants at a conference co-sponsored by the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases were told June 11.

The presentation, by Dr. Brad Njaa, an anatomic pathologist at Kansas State University, took place during the opening session of “Diagnostics of Endemic and Emerging Diseases: Beyond the Status Quo,” at the Alumni Center at Kansas State. The conference, which is co-sponsored by CEEZAD and by the Kansas State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, was held June 11-13.

Dr. Njaa told participants at the conference that a thorough and systematic necropsy examination is a critical part of the diagnostic process as it involves recognizing and confirming endemic or emerging diseases. “This is how we’re going to find the next emerging disease, by doing necropsies and by  doing them right and asking, ‘what’s going on here?’” he said. Dr. Njaa reminded attendees that “we as pathologists may be the first people to discover emerging diseases.”

Most of Dr. Njaa’s presentation involved videos of appropriate necropsy and sampling techniques on various types of animals.

June 11, 2018

The future of diagnostics

Improvements in sequencing, telemedicine and virus isolation are likely to drive diagnostic improvements in coming years, a noted veterinary diagnostician believes.

Dr. Jamie Henningson, interim director of the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Kansas State University, told participants June 11 at a conference co-sponsored by the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases and Kansas State University’s Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory that those areas and others were likely techniques for advancement of the diagnostic science.

Dr. Henningson teamed with Dr. Jerome Nietfeld, an emeritus professor at K-State, to update attendees on the past, present and future of the diagnostics of endemic and emerging diseases. She cited several areas where advancements are likely to take place, among them:

Genetic sequencing: “We’re already seeing sequencing move forward” leaps, faster and cheaper.

Enhancements to polymerase chain reactions. Known as PCR, these are laboratory techniques used to make many copies of a segment of DNA or RNA. They can provide test results in shorter periods of time with enhanced accuracy. “A lot of our PCR (equipment) are going to (soon) fit in the palm of our hand,” she said, an adaption that will enhance portability and thus ease of use. She noted that PCR has already largely replaced other diagnostic techniques for some pathogens, and due to both cost and ease of use it is replacing more expensive electron microscope usage.

Point-of-care and telemedicine. She noted that telemedicine diagnostics are already being offered “by many hospitals” to serve rural and under-served areas.

Dr. Nietfeld described the history of diagnostic practices dating back thousands of years. “We know that by 2000 BC, the Egyptians were recording clinical signs to learn why people died,” he said. The big breakthroughs, though, came in the 19th Century when scientists such as Pasteur, Lister and Koch brought germ theory into common acceptance, demonstrating the role of organisms in disease production and transmission. Vaccination also came in at about the same time. 

May 30, 2018

CEEZAD deputy director co-authors article on Dengue Fever

The deputy director of the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD) is corresponding author of a recently published article on Dengue Fever.

The article, for which CEEZAD’s Dr. Jean Paul Gonzalez was lead author, was published in the May 12 edition of the Journal of Fever of SciMedCentral. It looks at a 2011 outbreak of Dengue Fever in Thailand. The article focuses on the genetic variability and diversity of the Dengue virus as a major driver to develop an efficient, worldwide-needed, Dengue virus multivalent vaccine.

CEEZAD, an emeritus Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence, is based at Kansas State University. It focuses on the study of emerging and zoonotic diseases with an emphasis on improving diagnostic techniques and development of safe, efficacious vaccines.

Dengue Fever, a mosquito-borne tropical viral disease, has been around for centuries, but its spread has accelerated since World War II to the point where it has now been identified in more than 100 nations worldwide. In the article, the authors note that the virus is particularly problematic for researchers due to its extreme genetic diversity. The researchers said they found that cycles within its mosquito vector also play “an important role” in that genetic diversity. Using the epitope predicting method across all four variants, they identified seventeen epitopes exhibiting an amino acid substitution due to a non-synonymous mutation. One of the variants showed two epitope sites in the NS5 gene: one of the methyltransferase domains and the other of the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase domain containing a predicted single amino acid antigenic substitution change in a critical site that could contribute to the generation of antigenic variants.

They concluded that the findings “support our data that DENV-4 potentially exhibits a high rate of genetic diversity within an outbreak, conferring to DENV-4 a high potential for host and environmental adaptability that could potentiate the development of resistance to vaccines and/or antiviral drugs.”

Co-authors with Dr. Gonzalez were:

Narone Nitatpattana, Supaporn Wacharapluesadee, Thiravat Hemachudha, and Yutthana Joyjinda, all of the Molecular Biology Laboratory for Neurological Diseases at Chulalongkorn University in Thailand.

Yves Mone and Franciscvo Veas, both of the Molecular Comparative Immuno-Physiopathology Lab-UMR-Ministry of Defense in Thailand.

Meriadeg AR Gouilh of and Environmental and Infectious Risks Research Unit at the Institut Pasteur in France.

Kumchoi Chaiyo, Sutee Yoksan and and Supoth Ratchakum, all of the Institute of Molecular Biosciences at Mahidol University in Thailand.

Tom Vincent, O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Georgetown University.

The article can be accessed at: J SciMed Central

April 13, 2018

CEEZAD deputy director co-authors paper updating taxonomy of Arenaviridae family

CEEZAD’s deputy director is co-author of a soon-to-be published paper on the taxonomy of a virus that infects rodents, humans and snakes.

The article, titled “Taxonomy of the family Arenaviridae and the order Bunyavirales: update 2018,” was co-written by CEEZAD’s Dr. Jean Paul Gonzalez as a member of the Arenaviridae Study Group of the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. The article has been accepted for publication in an upcoming edition of the Archives of Virology. The article will be available online in the near future.

“This article really changes the taxonomy of these two groups of viruses,” Dr. Gonzalez said.

In 2018 the family Arenaviridae was expanded to include a new genus and five novel species. At the same time the recently established order Bunyavirales was expanded by three species. The article presented the updated taxonomy of both the family and order as now accepted by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. It also summarizes additional taxonomic proposals that may affect the order in the near future.

In particular, the genus Arenavirus was re-named Mammarenavirus, and a second genus, Reptarenavirus, was established in 2014 for several of the newly discovered snake viruses. A non-Linnean binomial species nomenclature was adopted for the entire family Arenaviridae. Since then, the genus Mammarenavirus has been extended by eight species for novel murid viruses discovered in Africa and Asia.

April 10, 2018

CEEZAD Team’s Rift Valley Fever Virus Vaccine Receives Federal Patent

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Work conducted at the Department of Homeland Security  Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD) located at Kansas State University in the College of Veterinary Medicine resulted in a patent for a subunit vaccine to be used against Rift Valley Fever Virus.

The U.S. Patent Office granted Patent No. 9,791,445 B2 to Dr. Juergen Richt, Dr. Bonto Faburay and Dr. William Wilson. Dr. Richt is the Director of CEEZAD and the Regents Distinguished Professor at Kansas State University. Dr. Faburay is a Research Associate Professor at Kansas State  University within the Department of Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University. Dr. Wilson is a Microbiologist with the Federal Arthropod-Borne Animal Disease Research Unit based in Manhattan, KS.

The patent covers the development of subunit vaccines containing Gn and Gc glycoproteins of the Rift Valley Fever Virus, including nucleic acids encoding such glycoproteins, host cells, vectors and immunoreagents generated with the glycoproteins.  It also covers methods of vaccination, methods of diagnosis and associated kits.

In recognition of the awarding of the patent, officials at Kansas State University, a member institution of the National Academy of Inventors, recently inducted Dr. Richt and Dr. Faburay as members of the Academy.

April 10, 2018

CEEZAD Conducts Symposium on EHDV

Experts in the fight against one of the leading killers of North American white-tailed deer participated in a CEEZAD-sponsored mini-symposium March 30, designed to gauge progress against the virus responsible for a disease with an extensive impact on the deer farming industry.

The virus, known as Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease Virus or EHDV, is a significant threat to the American white-tailed deer industry, whose value for the US has been estimated as high as $7.9 billion. EHDV outbreaks have been reported across all but few northern-most sections of the United States.

The symposium, held at the Mara Conference Center in Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, involved experts from the industry along with academics and governmental researchers working on development of mitigation strategies including potential vaccines against EHD.

A team led by Dr. Juergen Richt, CEEZAD’s Director and The Regents Distinguished Professor at Kansas State University, organized the conference.

EHDV Symposium
Top Row: [Left] Mr. Shawn Schafer, Dr. David Stallknecht, Dr. Juergen Richt, Dr. Jim MacLachlan; Bottom Row:  [Left] Dr. Samantha Wisely, Dr. William Wilson, Dr. Barbara Drolet

Shawn Schafer, executive director of the North American Deer Farmer Association, delivered a summary of the direct and indirect economic impact of EHDV in the United States. He also asserted that EHDV “affects the agriculture industry altogether,” rather than merely the white-tailed deer industry since cattle, big horn sheep and other wild and domestic ungulates have also been known to become infected.

Historically, Schafer said, major outbreaks sometimes occur in multi-year cycles. He also noted that there has not been a significant outbreak for several years, but added he did not know why that was the case. “Maybe we’re getting better at control, maybe our animals built up their immunity (disease-resistance).” He added, however, that immunities wear off across generations, asking “how long before we’re hit again?” The EHDV is transmitted to deer by culicoides midges, tiny insects that are carried by winds and that feed off an animal’s blood. When they feed, they deliver the virus. In 2015, EHDV virus was isolated from 19 states encompassing five species of deer.

Dr. Samantha Wisely, who oversees the Cervidae Health Research Initiative (CHeRI) in Florida, reported that between 33 and 60 percent of cases her laboratory receives are either EHDV or Bluetongue, a related disease. She added that even when EHDV isn’t the prime mortality factor, it is often contributory.

Dr. David Stallknecht, a professor at the University of Georgia, said the disease (i.e. the culicoides vectors) appears to be taking advantage of a warming climate to spread itself northward. He noted that in the 1980s, the virus’ northern boundary was approximately the 41st parallel, whereas today that boundary is about the 43rd parallel. “When it hits a new spot, it seems to stay…it establishes,” he said. He said drought also appears to be a contributing factor, the virus possibly flourishing during times when host animals are under greater stress and gathering in large group at water wells.

Dr. Barbara Drolet, a research microbiologist at the Manhattan-based Arthropod-Borne Animal Disease Research Unit (ABADRU), described the dynamics of EHDV infection in its vector, Culicoides sonorensis. She could elegantly show that the virus disseminates from the midges to others tissues, and is present by day 5 post feeding in the hemolymph; most likely the midges are able to transmit EHDV five days after an infective blood meal.

Dr. William Wilson, also a research microbiologist with ABADRU, told attendees of progress his lab in collaboration with CEEZAD researchers is making toward development of a vaccine for EHDV. Although vaccines against EHDV have been developed, they are not widely used due to flaws. Wilson said his goal is to develop a vaccine that is safe, easily scalable, and that allows for differentiation between infected and vaccinated animals.  He also wants it to be flexible so that “if the strain (of virus) changes, it could be adapted”.  He is using baculovirus-expressed subunit vaccines, which showed immunogenicity in mice, cattle and deer and efficacy in deer, and he is close to his goals. One significant remaining step, he said, is for the conduct of duration-of-immunity studies on the ABADRU/KSU vaccine. Schafer said that duration question is a large one for deer farmers and breeders.

The Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD) is a Department of Homeland Security Emeritus Center of Excellence based at Kansas State University dedicated to the study, containment and prevention of emerging and zoonotic transboundary diseases. This symposium was supported through funding received from the Kansas Department of Commerce, formerly the Kansas Bioscience Authority under the Federal Matching Program Grant Agreement.  The views and conclusions presented are those of the presenters and should not be interpreted as necessarily representing the official policies, either expressed or implied, of the Kansas Department of Commerce-Kansas Bioscience Authority.

April 6, 2018

CEEZAD deputy director co-authors paper on history and status of Ebola

CEEZAD’s deputy director is co-author of a recently published paper on recent developments in the effort to contain the Ebola virus.

The article, titled “Revisiting Ebola, a quiet river in the heart of Africa,” was co-written by CEEZAD’s Dr. Jean Paul Gonzalez with Nadia Wauquier of MRI Global in Dakar, Senegal, and Tom Vincent of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown. It was published in the December 2017 edition of Medecine et Sante Tropicales.

Dr. Gonzalez and his team persistently followed up the natural history of the Ebola Virus from its inception in Central Africa from the Pasteur Institute of Bangui in the Central African Republic, to the late 1970s Ebola Virus Disease emergence and spread in West Africa in 2014.

In the paper’s abstract, the researchers note that Dr. Gonzalez first questioned progress in the effort to contain Ebola more than three decades ago. They conclude that in the intervening period, infrastructure improvements have been made. But they also note that the global reach of the virus has increased, and that broadened presence has not translated into marginal increases in preparedness necessary to slow the virus’s progress. In other words, they express their concern, pointing out that “we do not seem to be learning from our mistakes.” and, the elusive Ebolavirus needs to be tirelessly tracked.

The article can be accessed at: Médecine et Santé Tropicales


March 28, 2018

Visiting researcher tackling problem of African horse sickness

Jim Maclachlan

African horse sickness is a highly infectious and deadly disease of horses. Although contained for the present to sub-Saharan Africa, its virulence, track record and the ease with it is transmitted makes it a potentially serious threat to the horse population in much of the world. That’s why Dr. James MacLachlan devotes much of his professional energy to combatting it.

Dr. Maclachlan is an emeritus distinguished professor of pathology, microbiology and immunology at the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of California-Davis. He is also a member of the advisory board of the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD), and was visiting CEEZAD offices in March as a participant of the EHDV symposium with Dr. Juergen Richt, CEEZAD’s director.

African horse sickness is one of several transboundary diseases that are the focus of Dr. Maclachlan’s research. Although presently restricted to sub-Saharan Africa, scientists do not presume that geographic limitation will continue, particularly since it has previously encroached in Europe and elsewhere. The last outbreak outside Africa was in the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) in the 1980s.

Governments and scientists use a system of tight border controls in an effort to prevent African horse sickness from spreading. The problem is those controls only work on the horses themselves; the various species of midges that actually transmit the disease aren’t subjected to border checks. And midges can move great distances when they are carried by wind currents. Compound that with climatic changes that make it easier for midges to serve as disease vectors in a broader geographic range and the challenge becomes obvious.

“Midges are sometimes referred to aerial plankton,” Dr. Maclachlan said. “They ride the wind currents.”

African horse sickness is an old disease, first recognized in the 14th Century in Yemen. Although there Is no cure for an infected horse, a vaccine has been developed and has been used for many decades in the affected areas of Africa.  Maclachlan is among scientists and researchers who have worked closely with Merial, a commercial manufacturer, to produce a different vaccine that does not rely on live attenuated virus, meaning it could be used in a crisis elsewhere in the world. Since the vaccine in use in Africa is live attenuated, “we would not use it outside sub-Saharan Africa,” Maclachlan said. The problem with the vaccine under development is marketability: since the disease does not presently exist outside of Africa, manufacturers have little incentive to produce it. “If you make a new generation of vaccine, what are you making it for…who’s going to want it until there is a crisis?” Maclachlan asked.

March 16, 2018

CEEZAD deputy director co-authors paper on Leishmaniosis in Libya

CEEZAD’s deputy director is co-author of a recently published paper on the threat caused by Leishmaniasis in Libya.

The article, titled “Natural Infection of Phlebotomus sergenti by Leishmania tropica in Libya,” was co-written by CEEZAD’s Dr. Jean Paul Gonzalez with Mostafa Dokhan of the University of Sabratha, Libya, Osama Zenbil of the Libyan National Center for Disease Control, Kaouther Jaouadi, Sadok Salem, and Afif Ben Salah, all of the Pasteur Institute in Tunis, and Badreddin Annajar of the University of Tripoli, Libya. It was published in the March 2018 edition of the American Journal of Tropical Medical Hygiene.

In the paper’s abstract, the researchers report on their screening of sandflies for Leishmania DNA, leishmaniasis being a significant public health concern in Libya.

The article can be accessed at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29532769

March 16, 2018

CEEZAD deputy director co-authors paper on arbovirus threat

A research paper co-written by the deputy director of the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases has recently been published.

The paper, titled “Arbovirus Discovery in Central African Republic (1973-1993)” was co-authored by Dr. Jean Paul Gonzalez of CEEZAD along with Jean-Francois Saluzzo of Fab’entech in France, Tom Vincent of the Georgetown University Law Center, Jay Miller of Health Security Partners and Francisco Veas of Laboratoire d’Immunophysiopathologie Moleculaire Comparee in France. It was published in the Nov. 2017 edition of the Annals of Infectious Disease and Epidemiology.

It found that a significant number of yet-unidentified viruses represent a constant and undetermined risk of emergency among a non-immune human population.

The article can be accessed at: http://remedypublications.com/infectious-disease-and-epidemiology/articles/pdfs_folder/aide-v2-id1022.pdf)

March 6, 2018

Deputy CEEZAD head co-authors new paper on brucellosis

The deputy director of the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases is co-author of a recently published paper on brucellosis.

The article by CEEZAD’s Dr. Jean Paul Gonzalez and three other co-authors was published in the March 2018 edition of BMC Public Health, a publication of BioMed Central. It is titled, “Assessing short evolution brucellosis in a highly Brucella endemic cattle keeping population of Western Uganda: a complementary use of Rose Bengal test and IgM rapid diagnostic test.”

Co-authors with Dr. Gonzalez are Arnold Ezama, one of Dr. Gonzalez former trainees of the Uganda Ministry of Health project on “Biosurveillance and Outbreak Response” (2014), sponsored by the Cooperative Biological Engagement Program (CBEP) of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA), of the Office of the District Veterinary Officer in Sheema, Uganda; Samuel Majalija, of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda; and Francis Bajunirwe, of the Faculty of Medicine at Mbarara University of Science and Technology in Mbarara, Uganda.

The study, using simple, low cost, and straightforward methods, demonstrated an increased prevalence of short evolution brucellosis (i.e. active transmission) cases among cattle keeping household members of Western Uganda as compared with previous similar studies. The full paper can be read at http://rdcu.be/Io9E

February 12, 2018

Two Selected for Orion, CEEZAD Internship Project


Two students have been selected to take part in a Biodefense Internship Program working with Orion Integrated Biosciences and supported by the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD).


The students are Alice Lam, an engineering student at Kansas State University, and Chester McDowell, a veterinary student in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State.

Alice Lam and Chester McDowell

Willy Valdivia, CEO of Orion integrated Biosciences, said the internship program will focus on the development of an analytical tool capable of combining different text and data mining tools used in the research of emerging and zoonotic disease threats. The idea is to improve near-real time situational awareness of abnormal and imminent biological threats coupled with risk-based analytics.


“This approach has great potential for advancing the students’ understanding of how to make our vastly expanding knowledge base more readily available to researchers and scientists,” he said.


Lam previously completed an internship involving the development of a classifier that predicts when patients with existing aorta aneurysms should be checked.  She said the integration of such fields with computer science has always been a personal passion. “As I experience more of real-life problems, I begin to understand why I enjoy my work so much,” she said. She wants to use this internship to learn more about bio-surveillance and bio-informatics. “This program will help me advance my professional software developer skills and also the background I need for my future career,” she said.

February 1, 2018

CEEZAD hosting aquaculture expert for presentation & discussion


Dr. Paola Andrea Barato, an expert in aquaculture pathology will discuss her recent research with Dr. Juergen Richt’s lab and others on Friday, February 2, 2018.

She will speak on, “Emerging Infectious Diseases in Freshwater Fish (tilapia and trout) at 1:30 p.m. Friday in Mosier Hall, Room P223.  Those interested are invited to attend.

Dr. Barato earned her PhD in biotechnology and her DVM from Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Bogota. She also has a specialization in aquaculture from the Aquaculture Institute of Llanos.

Her current research focuses on design, chemical synthesis and characterization of peptides derived from lactoferricin and evaluation of its anti-cancer activity.

Her appearance is sponsored by the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University.

January 12, 2018

CEEZAD’s Deputy Director at Annual KVMA Conference

Jean-Paul Gonzalez at KVMA

The deputy director of the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD) attended the annual convention of the Kansas Veterinary Medicine Association held Jan. 11-13 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Manhattan.

Dr. Jean Paul Gonzalez focused his exchanges on acquainting veterinarian practitioners  in attendance with CEEZAD’s role in developing state-of-the-art countermeasures to combat emerging transboundary and zoonotic threats to the nation’s food supply. CEEZAD is an emeritus Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence headquartered at Kansas State University in Manhattan with a broad mission of developing research in order protect US animals and animal products.

Participants were made aware of CEEZAD’s expertise in vaccine development, testing and validation; in diagnostic technology development; in combatting such transboundary animal diseases as African swine fever and classical swine fever; and in fighting zoonotic diseases such as Rift Valley fever virus and highly pathogenic avian influenza virus.

Dr. Gonzalez also gave attention to questions of students from KSU and KU, and visited state-of-the-art technologies presented by different Kansas based companies, on new product and strategies to improve animal health and agriculture in the US.

Veterinarians from around the state took part in the conference, which also featured a trade show, networking and presentations on the latest developments in the field of veterinary medicine.

October 26, 2017

CEEZAD Representative Speaks as Part of Tallgrass Taphouse Series

sabarish article photo

CEEZAD’s role in fighting transboundary animal diseases was the focus of a recent presentation that was part of the Science on Tap series.

Sabarish Indran, a post-doctoral fellow in the lab of Dr. Juergen Richt, CEEZAD’s director, delivered the presentation to an audience of about 70 people at the Tallgrass Taphouse. The series brings people who are interested in science together weekly for discussions over dinner and drinks. The series is sponsored by Sunset Zoo’s Behind The Science initiative.

Dr. Indran specializes in the study of Rift Valley Fever. In his presentation, however, he focused on the broader topic of transboundary diseases in general. Transboundary diseases are those whose threat extends beyond the borders of any single nation.

He noted that CEEZAD scientists study the causes of disease and the methods by which a disease responds to its host. Central questions concern how movement of a disease can be slowed or prevented, how diseases can be identified and understood, and current movement trends.

He told his audience that three-quarters of all human diseases identified within the past decade were zoonotic in nature, meaning they came from animals.

October 10, 2017

CEEZAD’s Deputy Director to Headline World Conference in Niger

The deputy director of the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD) will deliver the keynote address at the inaugural Scientific Days conference of the Center of Medical and Sanitary Research Nov. 14-16 in Niamey, the capital of Niger.

Dr. Jean Paul Gonzalez, a physician and researcher, will speak Nov. 16 on the topic, “One Health: Back To The Future.” It is a highlight of the international conference that is being organized around the theme, “From the great endemics of yesterday to the emerging diseases of today.” He will also chair a conference session titled “One Health.”

“One Health” is a term used by those in medical-related fields to note the inter-relationships between human medical, veterinary medical and environmental health fields.

The conference is being hosted by the Center For Medical and Health Research. Representatives of research centers from around the world, including the International Network of the Pasteur Institute, will be taking part in the three-day event. Dr. Gonzalez worked in various capacities at the Pasteur Institute for a decade prior to joining CEEZAD.

October 6, 2017

Life in the Gobi Desert

Cover Page


The search for zoonotic diseases can take researchers from the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases to some exotic locales. Few, however, are likely to be more exotic, or more challenging, than the Gobi Desert of Mongolia. Dr. Juergen Richt, director of CEEZAD, spent several days there in September as part of a team of veterinary scientists researching the spread of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Rift Valley Fever and various swine diseases. Working with a group that also included Mongolian scientists, their mission was to track the spread of those diseases through the indigenous camel population as well as the wild and domestic pig populations. The researchers spent most of their time at a site six hours south of Ulaanbaatar, the nation’s capital city, close to the Gobi Desert, where daytime summer temperatures can exceed 120 degrees. There they collected blood samples from about 50 Bactrian camels and about 40 head of cattle in an effort to ascertain the presence of MERS in camels or Rift Valley Fever in camels and cattle.  “The challenge is to find and catch” the camels, Dr. Richt said. “They belong to nomadic farmers.” He said the local veterinarians are able to guide them to the camels.The search for zoonotic diseases can take researchers from the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases to some exotic locales. Few, however, are likely to be more exotic, or more challenging, than the Gobi Desert of Mongolia.

Dr. Juergen Richt, director of CEEZAD, spent several days there in September as part of a team of veterinary scientists researching the spread of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Rift Valley Fever and various swine diseases. Working with a group that also included Mongolian scientists, their mission was to track the spread of those diseases through the indigenous camel population as well as the wild and domestic pig populations.

The researchers spent most of their time at a site six hours south of Ulaanbaatar, the nation’s capital city, close to the Gobi Desert, where daytime summer temperatures can exceed 120 degrees. There they collected blood samples from about 50 Bactrian camels and about 40 head of cattle in an effort to ascertain the presence of MERS in camels or Rift Valley Fever in camels and cattle.

“The challenge is to find and catch” the camels, Dr. Richt said. “They belong to nomadic farmers.” He said the local veterinarians are able to guide them to the camels.

Life in Gobi Desert 2

The second challenge is keeping the samples cool in the hot desert environment before returning to the laboratory.

MERS, a viral respiratory disease, was discovered in Saudi Arabia about five years ago and has since spread to several other countries. It can cause serious complications in humans, and in some cases death. The disease appears to be spread to humans by contact with infected camels. In Mongolia, the research team collected samples from about 50 camels. Those samples suggested the presence of MERS antibodies among the camels, although that suggestion is still being confirmed by additional laboratory testing.

Tests for Rift Valley Fever in camels and cattle were negative.

Additionally, the team spent a day working in a farming area north of Ulaanbaatar in an effort to ascertain whether either Classical Swine Fever (CSFV), Swine Influenza Virus (SIV) or African Swine Fever (ASF) had spread to that region’s pig populations. The potential spread of ASF is of particular concern because the disease, which is often fatal to swine, has spread in recent months from the European portion of Russia into the Asian portion of Russia. Geographically, Mongolia is directly between Russia and China, which has one of the largest populations of pigs in the world. If ASF were to infect the Mongolian population of pigs and then spread through Mongolia to China, the consequences for the world’s food supply could be significant. The testing is still ongoing, although testing for Swine Influenza Virus was negative.

In addition to Dr. Richt, the research team was led by Dr. Batsukh Zayat, of the Institute of Veterinary Medicine in Ulaanbaatar.  

Photos courtesy of Paul Cox.

September 1, 2017

CEEZAD Deputy Director Authors Article on Meningococcal Disease in Ukraine

An article co-authored by the deputy director of the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases was recently published by Intech, the world’s largest science, technology and medicine open access book publisher.

Dr. Jean Paul Gonzalez wrote the article, on Meningococcal disease in Ukraine, in association with Hennadi Mokhort and Sergey Kramarev.

Meningococcal disease in Ukraine represents an important cause of mortality mostly among children less than five years old. The study illustrates the advancement in understanding of Meningococcal epidemiology across the national level by using20 years of data provided by the Ministry of Health of Ukraine. This data includes: demography (census); disease incidence from 1973 to 2015; Meningococcal disease mortality; demographic data (sex, age, leaving area/city/village); Comparative etiology of purulent meningitis; serogroups of invasive meningococcal disease; carriers prevalence; a set of clinical data (meningitis, meningococcemia, nasopharyngitis, etc.); and a set of environmental data (season, etc.).

The dynamic of the disease is described for the past 20-year period including incidence, prevalence, spatial distribution, seasonality, and risk factors. Existing state-of-the-art meningococcal infection epidemiology is presented for all of the country. Ultimately, time series analysis of record and spatial distribution over such a long period of time supported the development of original construct of various models encompassing risk and vulnerability, and ways to improve epidemiological surveillance, and develop vaccination strategies in country.

Mokhort is an assistant professor in the Department of Epidemiology at Bogomolets National Medical University in Kiev, Ukraine. Kramarev is affiliated with the Ministry of Health in Kiev, Ukraine.

September, 2017

CEEZAD Director Plays Active Role at World Veterinary Congress

The director of the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD) played an active role at the 33rd World Veterinary Congress in Incheon, South Korea.

Dr. Jürgen Richt, the Regents Distinguished Professor at Kansas State University, chaired a session on porcine medicine that featured presentations on vaccination, emerging infections, oral fluid sampling and swine enteric coronaviruses. The conference was held Aug. 27-31 at the Incheon Songdo exhibition hall, Incheon, South Korea.

In addition to chairing the session, he gave three 45 minutes presentations as summarized below

CEEZAD’s Purpose

During his presentation on CEEZAD, Dr. Richt told participants of its creation in 2010 to help protect the nation’s agricultural and public health sectors against high-consequence foreign animal, emerging and zoonotic disease threats.  CEEZAD is headquartered at Kansas State University in Manhattan KS. The university is part of the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor and houses the College of Veterinary Medicine and the Biosecurity Research Institute. It is also adjacent to the site for the Department of Homeland Security’s premier animal research facility, the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility, or NBAF, under construction.

Richt noted that CEEZAD has four principal missions:

  • Development of novel, safe, efficacious and DIVA-compatible vaccines - for prevention and control of high-impact emerging and zoonotic diseases - that can be manufactured in the U.S.
  • Development and expansion of technologies and platforms for laboratory and point-of-need pathogen detection.
  • Development of models to predict high-consequence disease behavior in the U.S. to aid prevention or outbreak control.
  • Development of education and training programs for students, veterinarians, first responders and researchers in high-impact animal diseases and animal emergencies.

He told conference attendees that CEEZAD funds scientists specializing in animal health, public health, education, diagnostics, therapy and vaccinology. In this way, CEEZAD is enhancing the resilience of the U.S. pre-harvest agricultural system through investigator-directed research. CEEZAD-funded and coordinated research is conducted at more than 15 U.S. and international universities as well as governmental agencies and industry partners. He also outlined two CEEZAD projects, one on point of need diagnostics, and the other on the development of a recombinant Newcastle disease virus-vectored Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) vaccine for poultry. The NDV-vectored vaccine, for possible use in future HPAI outbreaks, provides excellent protection in live and inactivated vaccine forms, and via practical mass application.

September, 2017

African Swine Fever Research

During his presentation on CEEZAD’s research into African Swine Fever virus (ASFV), he said the study was designed to evaluate the immune response of pigs to various ASFV antigens including recombinant proteins and cDNA constructs, using a heterologous prime-boost vaccination approach. The ASFV genes encoding the structural proteins p15, p35, p54, CD2v (CD2-like)were synthesized based on the ASFV isolate Georgia/2007 and the respective recombinant proteins were expressed in a baculovirus or E.coli expression system.

The cDNAs were cloned into pcDNA3.1 expression vector and included the p72, p32, CP312R and CD2v genes. Three-week old piglets were used for the immunogenicity study. The vaccination groups consisted of a combination of different recombinant proteins and plasmid DNAs. The piglets were inoculated intramuscularly with 100μg of recombinant protein mixed with ISA25 adjuvant and 100μg of plasmid DNA.

Piglets were inoculated three times at two-week intervals and euthanized one week after the last immunization. Blood collection was carried out on the day of vaccination and at the time of euthanasia. ASFV-specific antibody responses in serum of immunized pigs were evaluated using ELISA, western blot and virus neutralization tests.

The results of ELISA and western blot showed that antibodies were induced against each recombinant protein. In virus neutralization assays, neutralizing activity was found mainly in sera from pigs immunized with structural ASFV proteins; in some cases the neutralizing activity was increased by combination with cDNA plasmids especially cDNA for p72 and CD2v. Pigs immunized three times with ASFV p15, p35 and p54 proteins in combination with cDNA plasmids CD2v, p72 and p32 were selected for challenge with virulent Armenia 2007 virus. Challenge was done in BSL-3Ag biocontainment and 5 age controlled animals served as challenge controls.

Neither the vaccinated nor the mock-vaccinated animals were protected against virulent ASFV challenge. Richt said these results will guide CEEZAD in its efforts to develop a potential vaccine against ASF.

September, 2017

Rift Valley Fever Research

During his presentation on Rift Valley Fever virus (RVFV), he noted that it is a mosquito-borne zoonotic pathogen causing serious morbidity and mortality in livestock and humans in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Richt said the virus also has great potential for transboundary spread due to the presence of competent vectors in non-endemic areas. There is currently no fully licensed vaccine suitable for use in livestock or humans outside endemic areas.

He reported on CEEZAD’s evaluation of the efficacy of a recombinant subunit vaccine based on the RVFV Gn and Gc glycoproteins. RVFV structural proteins, amino-terminus glycoprotein Gn and carboxyl-terminus glycoprotein Gc, were expressed using a recombinant baculovirus expression system. The vaccine elicited strong virus neutralizing antibody responses in sheep and was DIVA (differentiating naturally infected from vaccinated animals) compatible.

In a sheep efficacy study, animals were vaccinated subcutaneously with the glycoprotein-based subunit vaccine candidate and then subjected to heterologous challenge with the virulent Kenya-128B-15 RVFV strain. The vaccine elicited high virus neutralizing antibody titers and conferred complete protection in all vaccinated sheep, as evidenced by prevention of viremia, fever and absence of RVFV-associated histopathological lesions. Richt said CEEZAD researchers concluded that the subunit vaccine platform represents a promising strategy for the prevention and control of RVFV infections in susceptible hosts.

September, 2017

Kansas City Group Hears CEEZAD Official on Fighting Spread of Diseases from Africa

The deputy director of the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases outlined the challenges facing efforts to combat viral zoonotic diseases in Africa before a group of health professionals in Kansas City recently.

Dr. Jean Paul Gonzalez spoke to an Aug. 27-28 meeting of One Health Innovations. He focused his talk on biosurveillance strategies for dealing with emerging diseases in Africa. His presentation was based on material prepared jointly by Dr. Gonzalez and by Dr. Juergen Richt, director of CEEZAD.

Dr. Gonzalez outlined three particular challenges and goals for those attempting to thwart the movement of viral zoonotic diseases both into and out of Africa. Those challenges are: to be part of a global framework; the relative absence of early warning systems, lab networks, capacity-building and health systems; and individual national characteristics that can modulate preparedness and response.

Specifically, he underscored the need for early point-of-need detection, involving PCR detection platforms. To that end, he acquainted attendees with ongoing efforts at CEEZAD to perfect and market a portable PCR detection platform capable of producing results within one hour.

He also discussed the need for broader access to a portable RNA and DNA sequencing device improving sample-to-answer times.

Among specific outbreaks discussed by Dr. Gonzalez were:

*The 2014 emergence of Ebola virus in Guinea and Sierra Leone in West Africa. He noted that hundreds of cases presented in those countries and also in the Democratic Republic of Congo, many in regions where times required to reach a health facility were measured in hours rather than minutes.

*The 2015 emergence in Nigeria and subsequent spread of Avian influenza. He noted that the World Health Organization has found that various influenza subtypes continue to be detected in birds in Africa, Europe and Asia, some containing the potential to cause disease in humans.

*The challenges posed by recent outbreaks in Africa of Rift Valley Fever virus, monkeypox, Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever virus, anthrax and Brucella.

*The potential risk of a pandemic incident involving a disease emerging from Africa, and the need for increased transborder protection measures.


July 24, 2017

CEEZAD Conducts Annual Summer Training Program at KSU

Ten students in veterinary medicine and various areas of infectious disease research took part in the 2017 BSL-3 Training / Transboundary Animal Diseases Summer Program sponsored by the Center of Excellence For Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD) June 12-21.  The program is funded by the Department of Homeland Security, Science and Technology Directorate.

The Summer Program is an annual exercise in which CEEZAD gathers experts in the fields of biosecurity, pathobiology, virology, high-containment research and related fields in order to prepare promising students who are interested in infectious animal disease research.  The sessions took place at the Biosecurity Research Institute at Kansas State University. The program also featured visits to various businesses within the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor.

Students cite preparing for a career working with infectious agents and zoonotic diseases as major reasons for participating in the CEEZAD program.  

Here are brief biographical sketches of the student participants:

Christal Clements (DVM, BS, Animal Sciences, Tuskegee University)

• Current program: Combined Clinical Microbiology Residency/PhD student, Washington State University

• Research: Anaplasma phagocytophilum

Jim Duehr (BA, Biological Sciences, The College at the University of Chicago)

• Current program: PhD student, Microbiology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai;

• Research: Generation of novel antibody reagents against Hanta- and Ebolaviruses

• Goals: “I want to do a post-doc, probably in high-containment research.”

Melissa Dulcey (DVM, Washington State University; BS, Biology, Animal Science, University of Nevada)

• Current program: PhD student, Public Health, One Health Concentration, University of Florida

• Research: Bacterial pathogenesis – Shigella and Chlamydia

Michael Fink (DVM, BA, Communication and Psychology, University of Missouri)

• Current program: Combined Comparative Medicine Residency/PhD student, Veterinary Pathobiology, University of Missouri

• Research: Comparative ophthalmology: investigation of corneal wound healing in humans, dogs and horses; collaborative BSL-3/ABSL-3 containment studies on models of BSL-3 and BSL3-Ag containment.

Andrew Golnar (BS, Biology, University of Denver; MS Entomology, Texas A&M University)

• Current program: PhD student, Entomology, Texas A&M University

• Research: The impacts of parasite interactions on infectious disease dynamics for vector-borne disease transmission.

Elle Holbrook (BS, Environmental Health, Colorado State University)

• Current program: 2nd year DVM student, Colorado State University

• Research: Involved in a project on arbovirus diagnostics and evolution at CSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory use whole genome sequencing to characterize the epidemiology of vesicular stomatitis virus in Colorado.

• On the Summer Training Institute: “The hands-on containment training…will make me more comfortable in any future positions I have.”

Joshua Lorbach (DVM, BS, Animal Science, The Ohio State University)

• Current program: Combined Veterinary Pathology Residency (Anatomic)/PhD student, The Ohio State University

• Research: Influenza A virus surveillance and epidemiology at the human-animal interface, including swine and avian species; and mouse models of influenza A virus disease.

• On the Summer Training Institute: “It was an interesting opportunity for us to train and learn about bio-security.”

Alexandra Medley (DVM, The Ohio State University; BA Music, Voice, Oberlin College Conservatory)

• Current program: MPH student, The Ohio State University

• Research: HPAI wild bird surveillance evaluation (USDA CEAH); rabies projects in Ethiopia, Haiti, and Tajikistan

• On veterinary training: “Veterinarians are the most collaborative people…the most supportive.”

Joseph Modarelli (BS, Biomedical Science, Texas A&M University)

• Current program: PhD student, Genetics, Texas A&M University

• Research: (1) Development and application of a canine real-time PCR assay for diagnostic detection of tick-borne pathogens; (2) Surveillance for tick-borne pathogens using multiplex qPCR in brown dog ticks

MaRyka Smith

• Current program: Undergraduate student, Animal Sciences and Industry, Kansas State University; KSU College of Veterinary Medicine Early Admissions Scholar Fall 2018

• Research (Undergraduate Research Assistant): investigation of how Rift Valley Fever virus damages ruminant kidneys: Development of a Silver Methenamine Masson Trichrome (SMMT) stain for use in sheep kidneys.

• On the Summer Training Institute: “I’d never been formally trained in how to work in a bio-safety cabinet, so having he Bio Security Research Institute officers giving us tips and hints was the biggest thing I’ll be taking away.”


The students had the opportunity to train for one week at the Biosecurity Research Institute on operational techniques used in BSL-3 and BSL-3 Ag settings.

Among invited speakers contributing their expertise to the program were:

Dr. Alfonso Torres, Cornell University; Dr. Young Lyoo, Konkuk University, Seoul, South Korea; Dr. Keith Hamilton, Kansas State University; Cheryl Doerr, Kansas State University; Dr. Chris Detter, MRI Global; Dr. Alan Young, South Dakota State University, Medgene Labs; Dr. Byron Rippke, USDA Center for Veterinary Biologics; Dr. Jonathan Arzt, Plum Island Animal Disease Center; and Dr. Emmie DeWit, NIH, Rocky Mountain Laboratories.

In addition to valuing the BSL-3 training received, students report networking opportunities with invited speakers and other students participants to be valuable experiences from the program.

July 21, 2017

Researcher Undertakes Second Summer of Work on Nanoparticles

 It’s been a busy and productive year for a Mississippi Valley State University researcher involved with the Center of Excellence For Emerging and Zoonotic Diseases (CEEZAD).

Dr. Matthewos Eshete, an associate professor of chemistry at Mississippi Valley State, is spending this summer right back where he was last year, working in the lab of Dr. Seong-O Choi and Dr. Santosh Aryal at Kansas State University. He is continuing his researcher into the binding interactions between proteins and biodegradable nanoparticles via a follow-up award to work he was involved with last summer using a Department of Homeland Security grant. CEEZAD sponsored Eshete’s work both summers through its Minority Serving Institution program.

Biodegradable nanoparticles are polymers containing great potential in developing therapeutic molecules such as vaccines and drugs to target cells. A nanoparticle is defined as being between one billionth of a meter and 10 millionths of a meter in size. The study of nanoparticles is playing a major role in the advancement of modern medicine because their interaction with proteins is consequential for drug delivery and the immune system.

Following his experience last summer, Dr. Eshete, who is a chemistry professor at MVSU, returned to his classroom where he was able to apply the lessons learned during that summer work. He also presented findings from his research to the Mississippi Academy of Science in February, and to the 2nd Global Nanotechnology Conference in Las Vegas in December.

“It was a good review,” he said of his published finding, which is titled, “Interaction of Immune System Protein With Pegylated and Unpegylated Polymeric Nanoparticles.” In addition to Dr. Eshete, the co-authors include Kayla Bailey, an MVSU student who joined him during his 2016 summer research, Dr. Choi, Dr. Aryal, and Tuyen Nguyen. It has been accepted for publication in Volume 6 of Advances in Nanoparticles, a peer-reviewed publication.

This summer at KSU, Dr. Eshete is expanding the work he did last summer, trying to test the efficacy of different modifications. The hope is that one or more of the modifications will hone scientists’ abilities to deliver drug to the affected tissue or cell in the body.” At present, one of the limitations of both drug-delivery and vaccinology-related research is the precision with which the affected tissue or cells are targeted.

Dr. Eshete intends to continue his research when he returns to MVSU in the fall. Moreover He has recruited two students to work on the project with him. He hopes that in addition to answering some of the scientific question, the research project will help rekindle students’ interest in science and technology and prepare them for 21st century work force.

June 28, 2017

Current Status Report

The current status report is a weekly update on the status of all ongoing or recently resolved zoonotic disease outbreaks in the world. It is compiled by CEEZAD from information made available by the World Organization For Animal Health and other entities, and is organized first by major world region, then by disease, and finally by nation. Find it under world news on the CEEZAD website.

June 23, 2017

CEEZAD Co-Sponsors Conference for Rural Veterinary Practitioners

An inaugural event in Manhattan, Kansas, has helped educate rural veterinarians on how to respond and work together in the event of a potential transboundary emergency situation.

Held June 4 at the Hilton Garden Inn, the Rural Veterinary Practitioner Conference was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture with collaboration from the Beef Cattle Institute, Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases, National Agriculture Biosecurity Center (NABC), College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University and the Kansas Department of Agriculture.

The conference’s theme was “Preparing for Disease Challenges” and featured a variety of speakers such as Dr. Justin Smith, Kansas’ animal health commissioner. He has responsibility for directing the statewide response outbreaks of emerging or transboundary disease(s). He noted that Kansas is particularly vulnerable, in part, due to the annual shipment of more than 4.5 million head of cattle into the state (not counting cattle shipped purely for purposes of slaughter).

Dr. Smith said contingency plans in Kansas are based on the possible outbreak of foot and mouth disease, as it represents a worst-case scenario. He said, “If we can stop that, we can stop anything.”

Dr. Smith explained the first element of such contingency plans is to stop movement of the animal, which is a key element in controlling the spread of any potential outbreak. He emphasized how veterinarians in Kansas would play key roles in the event of any such outbreak since the state’s full-time manpower is sufficient to cope with the needs in an emergency.

Dr. Smith said the state response would involve a permitting process, but added that the state does not want any of its plans to damage the ability of farmers and ranchers to participate in the market.

“We want to make sure we can move product as soon as possible,” Dr. Smith said. “The issue is doing it at the speed of commerce.”

Dr. Ken Burton, director of project coordination for the Biosecurity Research Institute at Kansas State University and program director for the NABC, noted that with about 320,000 viruses capable of infecting mammals, potential concerns are abundant. He pointed out the nation’s agricultural sector is responsible for about 1 in 10 jobs, contributing $835 billion to the nation’s gross domestic product. With that level of activity, Dr. Burton said it’s easy to understand why the job of protecting the nation’s animal food supply from potential transboundary and emerging threats is so vital.

Other Kansas State University animal health experts spoke at the conference including Dr. Natalia Cernichiaro, assistant professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology, who discussed the use of data to investigate outbreaks. Dr. Mike Sanderson, a professor in the same department, outlined the Secure Beef Supply program.

Dr. Mike Miesner, clinical associate professor and section head of Livestock Services discussed common diseases that can look like more serious trans-boundary diseases. Professor emeritus Dr. Jerome Nietfeld  reviewed differential diagnoses of transboundary diseases, and Dr. Lina Mur, research assistant professor in infectious diseases epidemiology, gave an overview of the global movement of transboundary animal diseases.

Dr. Gregg Hanzlicek, assistant professor and director of Production Animal Field Investigations, spoke about disease trends as determined by diagnostic submissions to the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. Winding up the conference was Dr. Bob Larson, professor of production medicine, who covered clinical diagnostic interpretation.

June 21, 2017

Scientists Learn History of 1918 Spanish Flu at Ft. Riley

 By Season Osterfeld | 1ST INF. DIV. POST

   More than 25 scientists from around the globe visited Fort Riley May 10 to hear the history of the 1918 Spanish Flu outbreak at the installation and tour the museums.

     The scientists were in Manhattan, Kansas, May 7 to 10 for the 8th In­ternational Conference on Emerging Zoonosis hosted by staff of Kansas State University. The conference is held every three years and consists of an interdisciplinary forum of physi­cians, veterinarians, epidemiologists, immunologists, virologists, microbi­ologists, public health experts and oth­ers. During the event, the transmission of infectious diseases from animals to humans and the economic impact of transboundary diseases were discussion topics.

     With the assistance of retired Lt. Col. Arthur DeGroat, director of mili­tary affairs at Kansas State University, and Capt. Jamie Pecha, 1st Infantry Division preventive medicine officer, the international scientists received the history of the H1N1 Influenza, or Spanish Flu, that struck Fort Riley and spread across the world in 1918.

     Fort Riley is believed to be the ori­gin of the world-wide epidemic that killed millions, said Robert Smith, di­rector of the museum division at Fort Riley.

     “It was probably the greatest pan­demic the world has ever seen,” he said. “They (researchers) think it killed be­tween 2 and 4 percent of the world’s population. It was even greater than the bubonic plague back in the 14th century.”

     Over lunch at Demon Dining Fa­cility, Smith presented the history of the Spanish Flu at Fort Riley, as well as background on the installation and liv­ing conditions of Soldiers at that time. With a smirk, Smith told the scientists that patient zero was an Army cook named Albert Gitchell.

     “They thought it mutated from pigs and then infected some Soldiers, some draftees, from Pascal County, Kansas, and they came here to train at Fort Riley and then the first recorded flu case here was a cook of all people,” he said.

     Stephanie Hober, grant specialist, Kansas State University Center of Ex­cellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases, said the tour and his­tory were enjoyable and gave the group local background information on an epidemic several have studied.

     “They’re getting to see the histori­cal significance of Fort Riley in the outbreak of the Spanish Flu and the impact it had on the surrounding area here in the time it happened and the advances they’ve made since that time,” she said.

     Understanding the history of the 1918 Spanish Flu and how it spread through a military installation, across the nation and internationally helps scientists develop a larger picture on how viruses and diseases transform into pandemics and on to epidemics, said conference co-host Dr. Jürgen Richt, from Kansas State University’s Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases.

     “It’s history and it’s very good that Fort Riley is a historic place and has a historian who is very able to describe well the history of how from Fort Riley these disease evolved and causes mil­lions and millions of deaths,” Richt said. “It’s very important to have this historical perspective.”

     Richt said the conference gets the scientists and experts communicating across disciplines when they normally would not. They can exchange information and work together to understand, treat and prevent diseases that travel between humans and animals.

     “We have to bring these people together, they often don’t speak,” he said. “The medical doctors don’t speak with the veterinarians and vice versa and we can solve these problems so far. These zoonosis can become epidemics … We have to understand, not only from the human side, but also what’s going on in the animal reservoirs, and only then can we have a clear picture of what the risks are for these diseases to spread and come to our shores and what we need to stockpile now, like (Middle East Respi­ratory Syndrome) vaccines … These are the kinds of ques­tions we have to address and that’s why we bring together epidemiologists, virologists, bacteriologists and so on.”

June 15, 2017

KSU President Myers Visits CEEZAD 

Kansas State University President Richard Myers met June 13 with members of the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD) staff for a presentation on the Center’s operations.
Juergen Richt, the Regents Distinguished Professor at Kansas State University and CEEZAD director, delivered an approximately half-hour presentation outlining CEEZAD’s history and mission. CEEZAD is a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence established at Kansas State University in 2010 to help protect the nation’s agricultural and public health sectors against high-consequence foreign animal, emerging and zoonotic disease threats.
Also taking part in the presentation, which included a brief discussion on CEEZAD’s role going forward, were Dr. Tammy Beckham, Dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at KSU, and Dr. Derek Mosier, Interim Head of the Department of Diagnostic Medicine and Pathobiology at KSU. In addition to Dr. Richt, CEEZAD staff members and consultants in attendance were Dr. Jean-Paul Gonzalez, CEEZAD’s Deputy Director; Dr. Igor Morozov, Dr. Jessica Green, Stephanie Hober and Bill Felber.

April 20, 2017

BSL3 Safety Program for Engineering, Non-Medical Students

Enrollment is now open for a new CEEZAD-sponsored summer program designed to acquaint students in engineering and other non-medical fields with support careers at high containment facilities such as at the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, or NBAF, currently under construction in Manhattan, Kan.

The one-week program includes hands-on and classroom training, as well as invited guest speakers addressing topics including Risk Assessment, Facility Planning and Design, Structural and Containment Equipment, Information Systems, and Physical Security. An end-of-program group project will synthesize material learned during the week.

The application deadline is 5 p.m. CST April 24. Class size is limited to 6 students, and applicants must be current enrollees as a full-time undergraduate (junior or senior) or graduate student at a Kansas college or university.

Applicants must be U.S. citizens and must have a cumulative GPA of 3.3 or higher on a 4.0 scale. Use the link below to apply.


March 16, 2017

CEEZAD Executive Take Part in “Grands Témoins” Conference on Ebola in Zaire

The deputy director of the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD) took part in an international conference on “Eco-health and disease emergence” held March 2-3 at the University of Kinshasha, in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Dr. J.P. Gonzalez was one of several “grands témoins” (great witnesses) at the medical science conference, which attracted about 200 participants. The term ‘grands témoins’ refers to expert attendees chosen for the important role they play in the development of public health systems and processes in developing nations.

He was one of five scientists invited, and was chosen due to his expertise in the understanding of disease emergence, preparedness and control.

Dr. Gonzalez’ role involved giving presentations as well as mentoring sessions with students and post-doctoral attendees. He also presented sessions on publishing in scientific manuscripts and journals, and on granstsmanship.

He said he came away from the conference with a sense that progress was being made in broadening the understanding of the dangers posed by Ebola and other hemorrhagic or highly infectious viral diseases.  “I had the opportunity to discuss and mentor master students and doctoral students and I was impressed by the quality of their work and projects, their engagement, their knowledge of field work,” he said. “Also I was able to identify health priorities – for example, zoonosis -- of interest for future research of interest for CEEZAD.”

Dr. Gonzalez said he and his fellow “grands témoins” sensed gains in how the young scientist attendees understand the methodology they develop, and also in how they will be able to use the most advanced technologies - when available - to produce knowledge in science. “Also we were impressed by their understanding of biotechnology, biostatistics and the use of spatial epidemiology – for example, geographical information systems,” he said.

According to the World Health Organization, the Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans. First reported in 1976 in central Africa (On the edge of the Ebola river, Democratic Republic of Congo), the virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission. The average EVD case fatality rate is above 50 percent. The most recent outbreak in West Africa has involved major urban as well as rural areas.

Throughout the two-day meeting, Dr. Gonzalez said the main messages were:

            The essential nature of fieldwork as a pre-requisite to research.

The importance of exchanges, with the population at risks, through community counseling and community participation. The necessity for always questioning previous findings.

The immense progress of knowledge made possible by trans-disciplinary research projects. 

Gonzalez said that in order to understand why infectious diseases emerge, it is important to focus research on that question during the period when there is no epidemic activity. This enables scientists to see which variables are critical to sparking an outbreak. “When an outbreak/epidemic is going on, it is too late for research and quite impossible to understand the fundamentals of emergence,” he said. “Focusing and favoring research during the inter-epidemic period encourages the reaching of a consensus among all participants.”

He emphasized that some findings would be valuable to non-scientists as well as to scientists. Among those was the need for an increased understanding that everything - at least in terms of health - is interconnected. “That means any action on one of the actors of the health system – of natural and/or anthropic origin -- can be beneficial or disastrous for the pathogen dynamic , whether in the form of a disease, outbreak or pandemic,” he said.

With specific reference to Ebola fever, Dr. Gonzalez noted that people in central Africa, where it is prevalent, have a great knowledge of its intrinsic risk, having witnessed sporadic cases and outbreaks for decades. “But they are lacking knowledge to control and respond properly and efficiently,” he said, adding, “this what we are doing actively now in central and west Africa: Community counseling, and community participation.”

With respect to both Ebola fever and other highly infectious diseases, Americans – both civilian and non-civilian – need to understand the importance of not putting themselves at risk.

March 10, 2017 

Mississippi Honors Kayla Bailey for Work at CEEZAD

Scientific experts in Mississippi have honored an undergraduate student from Mississippi Valley State University for work she conducted during a CEEZAD summer research project at Kansas State University in 2016.

Kayla Bailey’s project was recognized by the Mississippi Academy of Sciences, which selected it as one of the top 10 in Mississippi.  For that achievement, Bailey was awarded an honorable mention and certificate of achievement as well as one year free membership for the Academy.

Bailey’s project involved an examination of the binding interactions between proteins and biodegradeable nanoparticles. She did the work as part of a faculty-student research team with Dr. Matthewos Eshete, a professor at Mississippi Valley State.   They worked in the lab of Dr. Seong-O Choi, part of the Nanotechnology Innovation Center of Kansas State (NICKS). CEEZAD hosted the team, whose research was sponsored by the Department of Homeland Security.

Beth White, education project manager for Oak Ridge Associated Universities, which manages DHS education programs, said Bailey’s work “speaks to strong collaboration” between Mississippi Valley State researchers and those at CEEZAD and Kansas State.

March 3, 2017

Biosecurity Research Institute Accepting Applications for Transboundary Animal Disease Workforce Development Program

The Biosecurity Research Institute (BRI) is accepting applications for five research fellowship positions in the Transboundary Animal Disease Workforce Development program. The fellowship is designed to foster the de­velopment of research scientists to safely plan and execute research on transboundary animal diseases (TAD) in BSL-3, BSL-3Ag, and BSL-4 environments. This opportunity will leverage the expertise and resources of the BRI and the National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratory (NEIDL) to train next generation PhD, DVM, and post-doctoral researchers to work in high and maximum-containment environments on TADs.


To see the complete application requirements and details, please visit: www.bri.k-state.edu/education/TADFellowship.html

Complete application materials must be received by 11:59 p.m. central, March 31, 2017.

February 16, 2017

Gonzalez Named CEEZAD’s Deputy Director

Dr. Jean-Paul J. Gonzalez has been named Deputy Director of the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD).

Announcement of Dr. Gonzalez’ appointment, which is effective immediately, was made by Dr. Juergen Richt, the Regents Distinguished Professor at Kansas State University and Director of CEEZAD. Based at Kansas State University, CEEZAD is a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence specializing in prevention of emerging, zoonotic and transboundary threats to U. S. agricultural systems.

“I am extremely happy that Dr. Gonzalez has agreed to join our staff as deputy director,” said Dr. Richt in announcing the appointment. He called Dr. Gonzalez “a world-recognized authority on the study of emerging and zoonotic threats to animals and humans.”

“I am looking forward to actively participating in the challenging task chosen by CEEZAD of developing advanced diagnostic, vaccine and biosurveillance strategies using cutting-edge technology with an expected global impact on pandemic zoonotic risks,” said Dr. Gonzalez.

Dr. Gonzalez comes to CEEZAD following a lengthy career that included a recent period as science advisor for Health For Development, an international entity committed to extending accessibility to health care to under-served regions. Based in Washington and Paris, he specialized in development of advanced biosurveillance tools and strategies. Prior to that he was a senior staff scientist specializing in emerging diseases and biosecurity for Metabiota Inc., headquartered in San Francisco.

During a more than three-decade long academic and professional research career, he has worked for entities in Africa, Europe, Central and South America, Asia and the United States. His experience includes assignments with the French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, the Government of the Gabon Republic, the French Research Institute for Development and the Bordeaux Regional University Hospital. His principal focus has been on the fundamentals of disease emergence, viral disease eco-epidemiology, and biosurveillance. He has worked for the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, and as a visiting professor at Yale’s Arbovirus Research Unit.

A graduate of Bordeaux University’s Medical School, he has also worked for the Pasteur Institute International Network, based in Paris, France. He earned a doctorate in viral ecology and molecular biology from Clermont-Ferrand University in France. He has published more than 300 peer-reviewed scientific manuscripts, books and book chapters.

January 18, 2017

CEEZAD Grants Approach $5 Million During 2016

The Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD) (www.ceezad.org) received nearly $5 million in extramural funding during calendar year 2016. That represented a 34 percent increase from 2015, when the Center received about $3.65 million in research grants.

CEEZAD, based at Kansas State University, is one of more than a dozen Department of Homeland Security Centers of Excellence conducting research designed to enhance the nation’s resilience and security. CEEZAD’s particular focus is on emerging, transboundary and zoonotic disease threats to U.S. agricultural systems and food-supply.

“We are honored to be entrusted with these projects, which are important parts of CEEZAD’s ongoing efforts to enhance the nation’s resilience and security,” said Dr. Juergen Richt, the Regents Distinguished Professor at Kansas State University and director of CEEZAD. “This research plays a vital role in enhancing the security of the nation’s animal population and food supply systems.” He vowed that CEEZAD will continue to emphasize its “rigorous commitment to critical research in the areas of emerging, transboundary and zoonotic threats.”

During 2016, the largest CEEZAD grants received were a $1.2 million grant from the Kansas Bioscience Authority to promote Bioscience Research and Development (R&D) in Kansas, a $1.1 million grant from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) in collaboration with Newlink Inc. (Ames, IA) to determine the safety of an efficacious Ebola vaccine (rVSV-ZEBOV) for domestic livestock, and a $1 million grant from the State of Kansas, mainly focusing on National Bio and Agro-defense Facility (NBAF) transition work.

Here is a list of other 2016 grant projects awarded:





Cooperative Agreement for the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases


National Pork Board

Collaborative Research Program for Foreign Animal Diseases of Swine



Enhancing rural practitioner aptitude for endemic, transboundary and emerging diseases of production animals


St. Jude Children’s Hospital/NIH

Swine influenza syndromic surveillance and research



Molecular analytical methods development to support arbovirus research



Completion of the evaluation of Rift Valley Fever diagnostic tests for use in a DIVA controlled strategy


The largest single grant received during calendar year 2015 was a $1.7 million DHS award for ongoing research to protect the U.S. agricultural systems from emerging, zoonotic and transboundary animal diseases