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CEEZAD

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 The Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD) at Kansas State University was established in 2010 to help protect the nation’s agricultural and public health sectors against a high-consequence foreign animal, emerging and zoonotic disease threats. 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.

 News/Events Highlights

December 3, 2021

Monkeypox identified in Maryland

resident who returned from Africa

A case of a rare disease usually found only in equatorial Africa has been identified in Maryland.

The case of monkeypox, a potentially serious zoonotic viral illness, was identified in an unnamed Maryland man who recently returned to the United States from Nigeria. A report in USA Today cited officials at the Centers For Disease Control (CDC) saying the strain identified as responsible for the man’s infection emerged recently.

Monkeypox can be transmitted  to humans who come in contact with infected animals or animal products. CDC officials said travelers returning from Africa should be alert for symptoms.

Authorities told USA Today that monkeypox can be human-to-human contagious under certain circumstances. Monkeypox symptoms are similar to smallpox and include skin lesions.

CDC is supporting state and local health officials, airline and travel industry partners, and other stakeholders to identify people who had possible contact with the patient. Because it can take up to 21 days for symptoms to develop after infection, contacts are being asked to monitor their health.

More information on monkeypox in the United States can be found by following this link. https://www.cdc.gov/poxvirus/monkeypox/outbreak/us-outbreaks.html

November 15, 2021

Richt study looks at susceptibility of domestic

and wild animals to SARS-CoV-2 infection

A team of scientists led by Dr. Juergen A. Richt has published findings of research describing the ability of the SARS-Co-V-2 virus to spread among domestic and wild animals.

Dr. Richt is director of the Center of Excellence For Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (www.ceezad.org) and the Regents and University Distinguished Professor at Kansas State University. Co-authors of the article were David Meekins and Natasha Gaudreault, both of CEEZAD and the Richt Lab.

SARS-CoV-2 is the etiological agent responsible for the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which continues to spread with devastating effects on global health and socio-economics. The susceptibility of domestic and wild animal species to infection is a critical facet of SARS-CoV-2 ecology, since reverse zoonotic spillover events resulting in SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks in animal populations could result in the establishment of new virus reservoirs.

In addition, adaptive mutations in the virus to new animal species could also complicate ongoing mitigation strategies to combat SARS-CoV-2. Also, animal species susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection are essential as standardized preclinical models for the development and efficacy testing of vaccines and therapeutics.

The study summarized the current findings regarding the susceptibility of different domestic and wild animal species to natural and experimental SARS-CoV-2 infection and provided detailed descriptions of the clinical disease and transmissibility in these animals. In addition, researchers outlined the documented natural infections in animals that have occurred at the human-animal interface.

A comprehensive understanding of animal susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 is crucial to inform public health, veterinary, and agricultural systems, and to guide environmental policies.

The full study can be read by following this link: Natural and Experimental SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Domestic and Wild Animals - PubMed (nih.gov)

October 27, 2021

Collaborative CEEZAD/NIH team identifies 2016 MERS outbreak as flowing from a single event

A team of scientists including Dr. Juergen A. Richt has published findings of research demonstrating a low genetic diversity of the Middle East respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus (MERS-CoV) sequence from camels. The work suggests that transmission of MERS-CoV among two camel herds in Jordan in 2016 likely followed a single introduction event.

Dr. Richt is director of the Center of Excellence For Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (www.ceezad.org) and the Regentsand University Distinguished Professor at Kansas State University.

Middle East respiratory syndrome-related coronavirus (MERS-CoV) is a persistent zoonotic pathogen with frequent spillover from dromedary camels to humans in the Arabian Peninsula, resulting in limited outbreaks of MERS with a high case-fatality rate. Full genome sequence data from camel-derived MERS-CoV variants show diverse lineages circulating in domestic camels with frequent recombination.

 More than 90% of the available full MERS-CoV genome sequences derived from camels are from just two countries, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

In this study, CEEZAD researchers, in collaboration with researchers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), employed a novel method to amplify and sequence the MERS-CoV genome with high nasal swabs of infected camels. They recovered more than 99% of the MERS-CoV genome from field-collected samples camel herds collected in Jordan in May 2016.

Subsequent analyses of 14 camel-derived MERS-CoV genomes show a striking lack of genetic diversity circulating in Jordan camels in contrast to MERS-CoV genome sequences derived from large camel markets in KSA and UAE. The low genetic diversity detected in Jordan camels during the study is consistent with data from MERS outbreaks in humans dominated by nosocomial transmission following a single introduction as reported during the 2015 MERS outbreak in South Korea.

Thus, the data suggest transmission of MERS-CoV among two camel herds in Jordan in 2016 following a single introduction event.

The full study can be read by following this link: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33807288/

October 14, 2021

Collaborative CEEZAD/USDA study finds Rift Valley subunit vaccine providing full protection in cattle

A team of scientists led by Dr. Juergen A. Richt has published findings of research demonstrating that a recombinant Rift Valley Fever Virus (RVFV) glycoprotein-based subunit vaccine platform is able to prevent and control RVFV infections in target animals.

Dr. Richt is director of the Center of Excellence For Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (www.ceezad.org) and the Regents and University Distinguished Professor at Kansas State University.

Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) is a mosquito-borne zoonotic pathogen that causes periodic outbreaks of abortion in ruminant species and hemorrhagic disease in humans in sub-Saharan Africa. These outbreaks have a significant impact on veterinary and public health.

Its introduction to the Arabian Peninsula in 2003 raised concerns of further spread to non-endemic areas. These concerns are supported by the presence of competent vectors in many non-endemic countries. There is no licensed RVF vaccine available for humans and only a conditionally licensed veterinary vaccine available in the United States. Currently employed modified live attenuated virus vaccines in endemic countries with a questionable safety profile lack the ability for differentiating infected from vaccinated animals (DIVA).

Previously, the safety and efficacy of the recombinant subunit vaccine based on the RVFV Gn and Gc glycoproteins, derived from the 1977 human RVFV isolate ZH548, was demonstrated in sheep. In the current study, cattle were vaccinated subcutaneously with the Gn only, or Gn and Gc combined, with either one or two doses of the vaccine and then subjected to heterologous virus challenge with the virulent Kenya-128B-15 RVFV strain, isolated from Aedes mosquitoes in 2006.

The elicited immune responses by some vaccine formulations (one or two vaccinations) conferred complete protection from RVF within 35 days after the first vaccination. Vaccines given 35 days prior to RVFV challenge prevented viremia, fever and RVFV-associated histopathological lesions. The study indicates that a recombinant RVFV glycoprotein-based subunit vaccine platform is able to prevent and control RVFV infections in target animals.

The full study can be read by following this link: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34358166/

 

September 30, 2021

Effects of Spike Mutations in SARS-CoV-2 Variants of Concern on Human or Animal ACE2-Mediated Virus Entry and Neutralization

A recently published paper by researchers from the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (www.ceezad.org) explore the effects of spike mutations in SARS-CoV-2 variants on humans and animals.

The paper’s lead author is Dr. Juergen A. Richt, CEEZAD’s director and Regents and University Distinguished Professor of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University. Co-authors were Yunjeong KimNatasha N GaudreaultDavid A MeekinsKrishani D PereraDashzeveg BoldJessie D TrujilloIgor MorozovChester D McDowell and Kyeong-Ok Chang, all from Kansas State University.

The article was published in August 2021.

SARS-CoV-2 is a zoonotic agent capable of infecting humans and a wide range of animal species. Over the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic, mutations in the SARS-CoV-2 Spike protein (S) have arisen in circulating viral populations, culminating in the spread of several variants of concern (VOCs) with varying degrees of altered virulence, transmissibility, and neutralizing antibody escape. In this study, CEEZAD and KSU researchers employed lentivirus-based pseudotyped viruses that express various SARS-CoV-2 S protein mutants and cell lines that stably express ACE2 from nine different animal species (deer, rabbits) to gain insights into the effects of VOC mutations on viral entry and antibody neutralization capability.

All animal ACE2 receptors tested, except mink, support viral cell entry for pseudoviruses expressing the parental (prototype Wuhan-1) S at levels comparable to human ACE2. Most single S substitutions (e.g., 452R, 478K, 501Y) did not significantly change virus entry, although 614G and 484K resulted in a decreased efficiency in viral entry. Conversely, combinatorial spike substitutions were associated with significantly increased entry capacity compared to that of the parental Wuhan-1 spike pseudotyped virus.

Similarly, hamster infection studies using live ancestral (USA-WA1/2020), Alpha, and Beta SARS-CoV-2 viruses in hamsters revealed a higher replication potential for the Beta variant compared to the ancestral prototype virus. Moreover, neutralizing titers in sera from various animal species, including humans, were significantly reduced by single substitutions of 484K or 452R, double substitutions of 501Y-484K, 452R-484K and 452R-478K and the triple substitution of 501Y-484K-417N, suggesting that 484K and 452R are particularly important for evading neutralizing antibodies in polyclonal human, cat, and rabbit sera.

Cumulatively, this study reveals important insights into the host range of SARS-CoV-2 and the effect of recently emergent S protein substitutions on viral entry, virus replication and antibody-mediated virus neutralization.

Notably, the results demonstrated that ACE2 from a wide range of animal species facilitate S-mediated virus entry into cells, which is supported by in silico data as well as natural and experimental infection studies. Pseudotyped viruses containing mutations in the RBD of S representative of the Alpha, Gamma, and especially Beta variants of VOCs demonstrated that certain mutations are associated with increased viral entry compared to the parental S.

The Beta variant was also observed to have a replicative advantage in vitro and in vivo compared to the prototype virus. Pseudotyped viruses containing the combinatorial substitutions of 501Y-484K-417K, 614G-501Y-484K and 614G-501Y-484K-417N increased viral entry via ACE2 across multiple species. The 501Y or 478K single substitution did not significantly affect neutralizing capacity of immune sera compared to the prototype strain, but the addition of 484K or 452R substitutions significantly reduced the neutralizing titers.

The full study can be  read by following this link. Effects of Spike Mutations in SARS-CoV-2 Variants of Concern on Human or Animal ACE2-Mediated Virus Entry and Neutralization - PubMed (nih.gov)

 

September 24, 2021

Dr. Richt speaks at DHS seminar on 20th anniversary of Sept.  11 attacks

Dr. Juergen A. Richt, Director of the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (www.ceezad.org), was a presenter at a recent seminar organized by the Department of Homeland Security in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The symposium was designed to reflect on the lessons learned from research into terrorism and other homeland security threats. It was also designed to anticipate how universities can contribute to future efforts to enhance homeland security.

Dr. Richt delivered a presentation concerning emerging biological threats. His presentation focused on threats to the Food and Agricultural sector.

A video of his presentation can be viewed by following this link.

https://create.usc.edu/the-9-11-symposium/

September 24, 2021

Deer can be infected with SARS-Co-V-2 virus

The director of the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (www.ceezad.org) is quoted in a recently published article in the Topeka Capital Journal on the presence of SARS-CoV-2 infections in wild white-tailed deer.

Dr. Juergen A. Richt said that while researchers have established that white-tailed deer can become infected with and spread the SARS-Co-V-2 virus, the meat taken from such deer should be safe to eat as long as it is properly handled, cleaned and cooked.

Deer season opened for some groups in early September and continues through January. Specific dates hinge on shooting classes and weapons.

The full article can be read by following this link.

https://www.cjonline.com/story/sports/outdoors/hunting/2021/09/08/can-kansas-hunters-safely-eat-meat-white-tailed-deer-infected-covid-vacinnes-pandemic-ivermectin/5753745001/

August 23, 2021

CEEZAD Director quoted in National Geographic Report on SARS-CoV-2 infections in white-tailed deer

The Director of the Center of Excellence For Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (www.ceezad.org) is among experts quoted in a recently published article in National Geographic on the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in white-tailed deer.

Dr. Juergen Richt, Regents Distinguished Professor at Kansas State University and CEEZAD director, commented on the significance of a recent finding of the virus’s presence in white-tailed deer found in four states: Michigan, Illinois, Pennsylvania and New York.

The article, written by Dana Fine Maron, was published Aug. 2 and can be read at Wild U.S. deer found with coronavirus antibodies (nationalgeographic.com)

Dr. Richt was asked to comment on the risk of White-tailed deer spreading SARS CoV-2. He expressed concern that the presence of the virus in  wild animals may constitute what is known as a “secondary virus reservoir” – that is, a place where it can hide, spread and develop largely free from the kinds of restraints normally imposed on it by public health officials.

Dr. Richt said that if the virus is circulating in animal species, it could continue to evolve, perhaps in ways that could make it more severe or more transmissible. That could undermine efforts to slow the pandemic.

CEEZAD researchers have conducted numerous studies since the emergence of SARS-CoV-2  that have been designed to ascertain its ability to infect various species of animals, and to explore the question of whether the virus can be transmitted from susceptible animals to other animals including humans.

September 15, 2021

CEEZAD team studies safety of VSV-EBOV vaccine

A team of scientists led by Dr. Juergen A. Richt has published findings of research demonstrating that high doses of recombinant Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV)-vectored Ebola virus vaccine (VSV-EBOV) can cause vesicular illness in swine, although no pig-to-pig transmissions occurred, encouraging its safe use as an effective human vaccine.

Dr. Richt is director of the Center of Excellence For Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (www.ceezad.org) and the Regents and University Distinguished Professor at Kansas State University.

The recent impact of Ebola virus disease (EVD) on public health in Africa clearly demonstrates the need for a safe and efficacious vaccine to control outbreaks and mitigate its threat to global health. ERVEBO® is a recombinant Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV)-vectored Ebola virus vaccine (VSV-EBOV) that was approved by the FDA and EMA in late 2019 for use in prevention of EVD.

Since the parental virus VSV, which was used to construct the Ebola virus vaccine VSV-EBOV, is pathogenic for livestock and the vaccine virus may be shed at low levels by vaccinated humans, Dr. Richt and a team of CEEZAD researchers performed a comprehensive clinical analysis of the VSV-EBOV vaccine virus in swine to determine its infectivity and potential for transmission.

They found that a high dose of VSV-EBOV resulted in VSV-like clinical signs in swine, with a proportion of pigs developing ulcerative vesicular lesions at the nasal injection site and feet. Uninoculated contact control pigs co-mingled with VSV-EBOV-inoculated pigs did not become infected or display any clinical signs of disease, indicating the vaccine is not readily transmissible to naïve pigs during prolonged close contact.

In contrast, virulent wild-type VSV Indiana had a shorter incubation period and was effectively transmitted to contact control pigs.

These results indicate that the VSV-EBOV vaccine causes vesicular illness in swine when administered at a high dose. Moreover, the study demonstrates the VSV-EBOV vaccine is not readily transmitted to uninfected pigs, encouraging its safe use as an effective human vaccine.

The full study can be read by following this link: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33719915/

August 6, 2021

ASF identified in the Dominican Republic

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory has confirmed that African Swine Fever virus is present in the Dominican Republic.

This marks the first time in decades that ASF has been found in the Americas.

AFS is a highly contagious and fatal disease of both wild and domestic swine that causes high mortality and substantial economic damage in places where it is found. The disease is widespread in Africa, parts of Europe and Asia. It has never been found in the United States.

USDA officials said the department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has numerous interlocking safeguards in place to prevent ASF from entering the United States.  Pork and pork products from the Dominican Republic are currently prohibited entry as a result of already existing classical swine fever restrictions.  Additionally, the Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is increasing inspections of flights from the Dominican Republic to ensure that travelers do not bring prohibited pork products to the United States.  CBP will also be ensuring that garbage/swill from these airplanes are properly inactivated and disposed of to prevent the transmission of ASF.  

In China alone, the ASF outbreak is estimated to have killed more than one-third of the nation’s pig population, the world’s largest, with losses in the millions of pigs and billions of dollars..

August 6, 2021

SARS-CoV-2 antibodies found in white-tailed deer in the U.S.

Tests completed recently by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) have determined that deer populations in at least four states have been exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

SARS-CoV-2-specific antibodies were detected in 33 percent of deer samples collected in Illinois, New York, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. The presence of antibodies is an indication that the animals have been exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Researchers said they did not know whether the deer were exposed through people, the environment, other deer, or another animal species. The USDA scientists said that based on the evidence they have to date, they believe the risk of animals spreading SARS-CoV-2 to people is low.

These findings are in line with testing conducted by researchers at the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (www.CEEZAD.org) that showed white-tailed deer are highly susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection and are very efficient in transmitting the virus to other deer.

June 11, 2021
CEEZAD Director delivers keynote at University of Nairobi 50-year anniversary celebration
 
The director of the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (www.ceezad.org) and the Center on Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (www.ksu.edu/cezid) delivered the keynote address at a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Department of Public Health, Pharmacology and Toxicology at the University of Nairobi.
Dr. Juergen A. Richt, Regents and University Distinguished Professor at Kansas State University and director of CEEZAD and CEZID, spoke on the topic of “One Health Research in the Time of Covid 19.”
 
The celebration was held on June 9 as a virtual webinar.
May 7, 2021

Work of pioneering veterinarian a source of inspiration to CEEZAD’s/CEZID’s director

Some of the roots of the drive to learn that motivates one researcher at the Center of Excellence For Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD; www.ceezad.org) and Center on Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious disease (CEZID; www.ksu.edu/cezid.org) may be traced back to a pioneer in the field of veterinary medicine.

Dr. Helen S. Richt Irwin, a long-time veterinarian and the first female graduate of Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, was the great aunt of Dr. Juergen A. Richt, Regents and University Distinguished Professor at K-State and CEEZAD’s and CEZID’s director.

Dr. Helen Richt, who received her veterinary degree from K-State in 1932, came to the veterinary program from her home near Omaha, where she had been born in 1910. Her father ran a farm and co-operated a feedlot there.

Surrounded by animals, the young girl grew up with a love of them, especially dogs and cats. The fourth of 11 children, family members characterized her as her father’s ‘shadow’ on the farm.

In a 2005 book about female veterinary medicine graduates at K-State, Dr. Helen Richt’s sister, Edith, told author Lesley Gentry that Helen was “out-doorsy, but not a tomboy.”

That plus a family connection with Dr. Donald Munn Walker, a local veterinarian who partnered with her father in an Ag-related business, motivated the future Dr. Helen Richt to aspire to join the veterinary field. Following her graduation from high school in Omaha in 1928, she applied for admission to the K-State veterinary college.

To that point, no woman had ever been admitted to the college, but Helen broke the precedent, entering the college in the fall of 1928. At K-State, she pursued her veterinary studies, applying such spare time as she had to activities of the Women’s Athletic Association. She enjoyed baseball, volleyball and hockey.

As a sophomore she became the first woman member of the Kansas State student chapter of the American Veterinary Medicine Association. She completed the 164-credit hour program and graduated as a DVM on June 2, 1932, in a class of 19, winning the Franklin Prize in Pathology. By then she had already passed her board exams.

Even as a student, Helen’s desire to join the veterinary profession received attention. In 1932 various newspaper articles followed her progress: her appearance before the state’s veterinary board, her receipt of a veterinary license, and her decision to launch a pet hospital.

Shortly after receiving her license, she briefly returned home to Omaha where her veterinary skills turned out to be needed. A family pet, a dog, injured a leg in a fence, necessitating amputation surgery.  Dr. Helen Richt performed the surgery at home while family members watched. The dog recovered.

In 1933 as a grad technician, she worked at K-State alongside Dean Ralph Dykstra.

In December of 1934, she married Dr. William F. Irvin, also a KSU veterinary medicine graduate. They jointly purchased the City Veterinary Hospital, in Tulsa in 1935. Helen specialized in tonsillectomies and cesareans. She was described as good at calming stressed animals, and capable of handling the largest dogs.

The family’s first child was born in 1937. That same year she was appointed secretary of the AVMA section on small animals. She thus became the first woman to hold an AVMA office.

The couple built a new hospital structure in 1942. By then a second son had been born; a third followed in 1945, after which Dr. Helen Richt retired from active practice to care for the couple’s family. But she maintained involvement in AVMA, serving as secretary to the Oklahoma Vet Med Association auxiliary in 1955.

Following her husband’s death in 1959 airplane accident, Dr. Helen Richt sold the Tulsa practice. Still she remained active in AVMA activities, being elected treasurer of the Oklahoma Veterinary Medicine Association in 1960.

When her health began to deteriorate, she moved back to Omaha, where she died following a prolonged battle with cancer in 1990.

Dr. Helen Richt’s career became a model for aspiring veterinarians. She once told a reporter, “it is hard work, but there is a lot of satisfaction in helping some poor dog or cat. It’s a matter of loving animals.

“I’ve always been interested in taking care of unfortunate creatures,” she added.

In her book, Gentry described Dr. Helen Richt as “a woman with great determination who was not afraid to challenge new ground…a wonderful person who has left an indelible mark on the face of women in veterinary medicine.”

In her honor, the Helen Richt Scholarship in veterinary medicine was created at K-State.

Dr. Juergen Richt, who has been at KSU since 2008, is following in his great-aunt’s footsteps by continuing to advance veterinary research with a focus on emerging and zoonotic diseases.

“Although I did not know Dr. Helen Richt personally, her story, her commitment to the veterinary profession and her dedication to the advancement of veterinary science provide a great source of inspiration to me to improve the veterinary knowledge base today,” Dr. Juergen Richt said.

May 7, 2021

CEEZAD team’s work on SARS-CoV-2 stability highlighted in KSU press release

Research by a team from the DHS Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD; www.ceezad.org) is being featured in a Kansas State University news release.

The research, led by Dr. Juergen A. Richt, Regents and Kansas State University Distinguished Professor and director of CEEZAD and the NIH Center on Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (CEZID; www.ksu.cezid.org), focused on the issue of the environmental stability of the SARS-CoV-2 virus on various common surfaces.

It was included in an article published by KSU’s Division of Communications and Marketing highlighting various university-wide efforts to research and combat the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The study resulted in several important insights into SARS-CoV-2 survival on various surfaces such as concrete, polypropylene, stainless steel and galvanized steel, nitrile gloves, Tyvek, N95 masks, Styrofoam, cardboard, rubber and glass.

It also found:

  • The virus survived the longest — 21 days after contamination — on surfaces under winter conditions.
  • In spring and fall conditions, the virus survived up to seven days.
  • No infectious virus was found three days after contamination under summer conditions.
  • Under indoor conditions, the virus survived up to 4 days.

The full article can be viewed by following this link: https://www.k-state.edu/research/about/seek/spring-2021/researchers-work-across-disciplines-to-end-pandemic.html

May 7, 2021

CEEZAD director’s research into SARS-CoV-2 and houseflies detailed in verywellhealth article

Research conducted by a team of scientists from KSU and USDA including the director of the DHS Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD; (CEEZAD; www.ceezad.org) and the NIH Center on Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (CEZID; www.ksu.edu/cezid) has found that common houseflies can carry infectious SARS-CoV-2 but are not a likely source for the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The research findings were reported in the April 20 edition of the journal Parasites and Vectors (Balaraman et al., 2021. Mechanical transmission of SARS-CoV-2 by house flies. Parasit. Vectors. 14:214), and detailed in an article published in the April 27 edition of verywellhealth. https://www.verywellhealth.com/house-flies-covid-19-carriers-5180607

Study co-author Dr. Juergen A. Richt, Regents and University Distinguished Professor at Kansas State University and Director of CEEZAD and CEZID, said the study was undertaken because “there are many cases of COVID-19 where we don’t know how someone contracted the virus.”

Richt said the study focused on houseflies because they are “known to be attracted to biological fluids that can be contaminated with the virus” and are also known to transmit bacterial, parasitic, and viral diseases to humans and animals. The authors concluded that the chances of contracting the SARS-CoV-2 virus from a fly are slim.

Even so, they did find a need for additional studies to determine whether housefly transmission occurs naturally, and the potential public health implications of any such natural transmission.

April 26, 2021

CEEZAD article on a theory for SARS-CoV-2 published by leading biology journal

An important study conducted by researchers at the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD) has been published by Cell, one of the world’s leading journals on biology with a ranking of #1 out of 298 journals on biochemistry and molecular biology.

The study looks at the possible use of a topoisomerase 1 inhibitor to suppress inflammation induced by SARS-CoV-2 in the respiratory tract.

In the Cell article, CEEZAD researchers report on research demonstrating that topoisomerase 1 (TOP1) inhibition does down-regulate inflammation induced by SARS-CoV-2 and improves the clinical signs associated with SARS-CoV-2.

The study’s co-authors include Dr. Juergen A. Richt, the Regents and University Distinguished Professor at Kansas State University and director of two national Centers of Excellence, CEEZAD (www.ceezad.org) and CEZID (www.ksu.edu/cezid). Other co-authors include Natasha Gaudreault, David Meekins, Sabarish Indran, Igor Morozov and Jessie Trujillo, all of KSU.

The ongoing pandemic caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is currently affecting millions of lives worldwide. Large retrospective studies indicate that an elevated level of inflammatory cytokines and pro-inflammatory factors are associated with both increased disease severity and mortality. Using multidimensional epigenetic, transcriptional, in vitro, and in vivo analyses, the researchers found that therapeutic treatment with two doses of topotecan (TPT), an FDA-approved TOP1 inhibitor, down-regulates infection-induced inflammation in hamsters. TPT treatment as late as 4 days post-infection reduces morbidity and rescues mortality in a transgenic mouse model.

These results support the potential of TOP1 inhibition as an effective host-directed therapy against severe SARS-CoV-2 infection.

TPT and its derivatives are inexpensive clinical-grade inhibitors available in most countries. Clinical trials are needed to evaluate the efficacy of repurposing TOP1 inhibitors for severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in humans.

The full article can be read by following this by clicking here.

March 29, 2021

CEEZAD/CEZID Director quoted in an article on the emergence 

of a new strain of avian influenza

The Director of the Center of Excellence For Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD; http://www.ceezad.org) and the Center on Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (CEZID; (www.ksu.edu/cezid)) is one of several experts on zoonotic diseases quoted in a recent article on the emergence of a variation of avian influenza that has spread to humans.

Dr. Juergen A. Richt, Regents Distinguished Professor at Kansas State University and Director of CEEZAD and CEZID, is among experts cited in an article published by Verywellhealth. The article, which can be read by following the link below, discusses concerns over the emergence of the H5N8 variant of avian influenza in Russia. The article was written by Korin Miller.

The H5N8 influenza strain emerged in a group of workers who were exposed to infected bird flocks. The workers did not develop influenza-like symptoms and there was no evidence that they passed the virus on to other people. While outbreaks of the H5N8 strain have been detected in various countries in the past few months, this is the first time the H5N8 strain was transmitted from infected birds to humans. In the article, Dr. Richt notes that it is not yet clear the extent to which the new strain poses a serious threat to humans. At a minimum, however, it appears to be “rather concerning” to poultry due to its potential lethality.

Source: First Cases of H5N8 Bird Flu Are Asymptomatic—Experts Say That's Promising (verywellhealth.com)

March 26, 2021

CEEZAD Director discusses research into Rift Valley Fever virus and Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease Virus

The Director of the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD) told participants at the recent spring virtual conference of the International Society for Bioprocess Technology about CEEZAD’s research into the Rift Valley Fever Virus and Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease Virus.

Dr. Juergen A. Richt, who is also Regents and University Distinguished Professor at Kansas State University, discussed CEEZAD’s work on Rift Valley Fever during the organization’s 10th annual spring conference.

Dr. Richt’s presentation, which can be viewed by following the link below, focused on the development of sub-unit vaccines for RVF and EHD.

https://dl-mail.ymail.com/ws/download/mailboxes/@.id==VjN-GbzxOoio-94IjiM_S53xyRhh7aIafxrnnMr7dNSXTWKh2EJTm8pvLXvIie7-kJJeFIsnPRxmvUpnfQgjGTRYIw/messages/@.id==AGQE5rMH3iXVYFznPA82iKz4wy8/content/parts/@.id==2/raw?appid=YMailNodin&ymreqid=90f1648b-dee6-7715-1c14-ac0000015200&token=wxO3Oa0kI6pXo5xR0WHt_uYJDFxX21swvsg2uvQ6sRTEYqDfdZ8W3NVgt_ewE_CuetKpH3FwuzkJ0QUtDbcIa79qFO6Dt5rHM6FvOrDAAI0YfieQui8lJ5Kbrknr2pTX 

March 26, 2021

CEEZAD research into reinfection of cats with SARS CoV-2 is published

Research by scientists from the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD) into the protection of previously exposed cats from re-infection by the SARS CoV-2 virus has recently been published.

The article is titled “Experimental re-infected cats do no transmit SARS CoV-2.” It was published in the Journal “Emerging Microbes and Infections” this month.

Co-authors include Dr. Juergen A. Richt, Dr. Igor Morozov, Natasha Gaudreault, David Meekins, Jessie Trujillo, Daniel W. Madden, Konner Cool, Bianca Libanori Artiaga, Chester McDowell, Dashzeveg Bold, Velmurugan Balaraman, Taeyong Kwon, Jamie Henningson, and Wenjun Ma, all affiliated with KSU and CEEZAD.

In the article, the authors note they and others have previously demonstrated that cats are susceptible to SARS-CoV-2 infection and can efficiently transmit the virus to naïve cats. 

In this study, the CEEZAD scientists address whether cats previously exposed to SARS-CoV-2 can be re-infected with SARS-CoV-2. In two independent studies, SARS-CoV-2-infected cats were re-challenged with SARS-CoV-2 at 21 days post-primary challenge (DPC) and necropsies performed at 4, 7, and 14 days post-secondary challenge (DP2C). 

Sentinels were comingled with the re-challenged cats at 1 DP2C. Clinical signs were recorded, and nasal, oropharyngeal, and rectal swabs, blood, and serum were collected and tissues examined for histologic lesions. Viral RNA was transiently shed via the nasal, oropharyngeal, and rectal cavities of the re-challenged cats. Viral RNA was detected in various tissues of re-challenged cats mainly in the upper respiratory tract and lymphoid tissues, but less frequently and at lower levels in the lower respiratory tract when compared to primary SARS-CoV-2 challenged cats. Histologic lesions that characterized primary SARS-CoV-2 infected cats at 4 DPC were absent in the rechallenged cats. 

The results showed that naïve sentinels co-housed with the re-challenged cats did not shed virus or seroconvert. Together, the results indicate that cats previously infected with SARS-CoV-2 can be experimentally re-infected with SARS-CoV-2; however, the levels of virus shed were insufficient for transmission to co-housed naïve sentinels. 

The researchers concluded that SARS-CoV-2 infection in cats induces immune responses that provide partial, non-sterilizing immune protection against re-infection.

The full article can be read by following this link:

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/22221751.2021.1902753 

March 26, 2021

John Deere article features CEEZAD Director’s work

The Director of the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases is featured in an article contained in the most recent edition of “The Furrow,” the monthly magazine of John Deere Inc.

The article, titled “Pandemic Fighters,” discusses efforts by prominent agricultural scientists to combat a variety of diseases that threaten the nation’s food supply. The work of Dr. Juergen A. Richt, CEEZAD Director and Regents and University Distinguished Professor at Kansas State University, is extensively discussed.

Written by Steve Werblow, the article focuses on Dr. Richt’s work combatting Rift Valley Fever. Prevalent in parts of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, Rift Valley Fever is a mosquito-transmitted disease that affects sheep, cattle, goats, and camels, and also is transmissible to humans.

The human case fatality rate is about 10 percent. “If Rift Valley Fever virus somehow comes onto our shores, it will find very fertile ground to establish itself,” he is quoted in the article as saying.

You can read the full text of the article by following the link below.

https://www.deere.com/en/publications/the-furrow/ 

March 25, 2021

CEEZAD research into Ebola virus vaccine is published

Research by scientists from the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD) into the safety of a human vaccine for use in combatting the Ebola virus has recently been published.

The research did not involve work with the Ebola virus.

The article is titled “High dose of vesicular stomatitis virus-vectored Ebola virus vaccine causes vesicular disease in swine without horizontal transmission.” It was published in the Journal “Emerging Microbes and Infections” this month.

Co-authors include Dr. Juergen A. Richt, Dr. Igor Morozov, David Meekins, Jessie Trujillo, Sun-Young Sunwoo, Kinga Urbaniak, In Joong Kim, Sanjeev Narayanan, Sabarish Indran, and Wenjun Ma, all affiliated with KSU and CEEZAD.

In the article, the authors note that the recent impact of Ebola virus disease (EVD) on public health in Africa demonstrates the need for a safe and efficacious vaccine to control outbreaks and mitigate its threat to global health. The research focuses on the potential of a vaccine called ERVEBO®, which is an effective recombinant Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV)-vectored Ebola virus vaccine (VSV-EBOV) that was approved by the FDA and EMA in late 2019 for use in the prevention of EVD. 

Since the parental virus VSV, which was used to construct ERVEBO®/VSV-EBOV, is pathogenic for livestock and the virus may be shed at low levels by vaccinated humans, widespread deployment of the vaccine required investigation into its infectivity and transmissibility in VSV-susceptible livestock species. 

The researchers performed a comprehensive clinical analysis of the ERVEBO®/VSV-EBOV vaccine virus in swine to determine its infectivity and potential for transmission. A high dose of ERVEBO®/VSV-EBOV resulted in VSV-like clinical signs in swine, with a proportion of pigs developing ulcerative vesicular lesions at the nasal injection site and a distant site, the feet.

Uninoculated contact control pigs co-mingled with ERVEBO®/VSV-EBOV -inoculated pigs did not become infected or display any clinical signs of disease, indicating the vaccine is not readily transmissible to naïve pigs during prolonged close contact. In contrast, virulent wild-type VSV had a shorter incubation period and was transmitted to contact control pigs. 

These results indicate that the ERVEBO®/VSV-EBOV vaccine causes vesicular illness in swine when administered at a high dose. Moreover, the study demonstrates the ERVEBO®/VSV-EBOV vaccine is not readily transmitted to uninfected pigs, encouraging its safe use as an effective human vaccine.

The full article may be read by following this link: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/22221751.2021.1903343?src=

March 10, 2021

South African University Recognizes CEEZAD’s Director

for receiving research award

An internationally renowned veterinary college recently recognized the Director of the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD) for his receipt of a prestigious award for veterinary research.

The University of Pretoria in South Africa honored Dr. Juergen A. Richt, CEEZAD’s Director, for his receipt of the 2021 Excellence in Research Award by the Association of American Veterinary Medical Colleges. In addition to being the Regents Distinguished Professor at Kansas State University, Dr. Richt holds the position of Extraordinary Lecturer as Faculty of Veterinary Science at the University of Pretoria in South Africa.

The award designates the outstanding veterinary medical researcher of the year, as selected by a committee of peers. It recognizes an individual who, over the course of his or her career, has demonstrated excellence in original research, leadership in the scientific community, and mentoring of trainees and colleagues in any discipline of veterinary medicine.

Dr. Richt investigates zoonotic, emerging and transboundary diseases of livestock, focusing mainly on viral diseases. His work has led to strategies to identify, control and/or eradicate pathogens with significant impact on veterinary medicine, human health and food security. His recent work focuses on the establishment of preclinical animal models for SARS-CoV-2 to evaluate the efficacy of vaccines and therapeutics for COVID-19.

The University of Pretoria citation may be seen at this link: https://www.up.ac.za/veterinary-tropical-diseases/article/2954867/dr-juergen-a-richt

February 10, 2021

CEEZAD Director’s research featured in MIT article

Research by the Director of the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases is featured in a recently published article in the MIT Technology Review.

The research, by CEEZAD Director Dr. Juergen A. Richt, focuses on methods of improving the resistance of pigs to influenza. The article, titled “Lessons From the Pig Epidemic,” was written by Antonio Regalado, and published on Dec. 12.

In the article, Regalado reports on Dr. Richt’s work in collaboration with Genus, a British company specializing in animal genetics. The focus of the research is an effort to make pigs more resistant to swine flu by modifying the pigs’ genetic makeup.

Specifically, he is testing the feasibility of removing various genes, called proteases, which the flu and other pathogens require in order to enter cells. If these key proteases can be removed, then it may improve pigs’ resistance to the flu.

“What we want is to make (pigs) resistant to all influenzas, from all walks of life,” Richt said.

The work is challenging because proteases are necessary to life. The challenge lies in finding the extent to which they can be removed or modified without harming the pig. But Richt noted that finding the right combination can lead to “less virus replication, les virus re-assortment,” and eventually to a reduced evolution of the virus.

The full article can be read at this link.

https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/12/11/1013176/crispr-pigs-prrs-cd163-genus/ 

January 25, 2021

NOW ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS

June 21 - 30, 2021

The CEEZAD BSL-3 Training/Transboundary Animal Diseases Summer Program is designed to introduce graduate, DVM and upper-level undergraduate students to high-containment training and to provide current practical and scientific information on select high consequence transboundary and zoonotic diseases. In addition, this program also provides insight into challenges associated with the current COVID-19 pandemic and into methodologies, tools and partnerships that could help us better respond to future pandemics.

The program is funded by the Department of Homeland Security and is directed at highly motivated students with a demonstrated career interest in transboundary and zoonotic diseases of animals. The two-week program consists of one week of intensive, hands-on and classroom training at the Biosecurity Research Institute (BRI; website) at Kansas State University and with virtual presentations from area industry partners and seminars/lectures from national and international subject matter experts in high containment research and transboundary animal diseases during the second week.

The BRI, located adjacent to the National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility, or NBAF, contains an Education and Training area which includes a training laboratory with equipment that simulates BSL-3 research practices.  Both, CEEZAD and the BRI are committed to training a specialized workforce to protect the nation's agriculture and public health sectors against high consequence transboundary, emerging and zoonotic diseases.

Eligibility Requirements

  • U.S. citizenship
  • Cumulative GPA of 3.3 or higher on a 4.0 scale
  • Current enrollment as a full-time undergraduate (junior or senior), graduate student, or DVM student

Program Goals

  • To provide training on essential practices to safely conduct research in a BSL-3 and BSL-3Ag environment
  • To provide current practical and scientific information on select high-consequence transboundary animal diseases including activities to be conducted at the future National Bio and Agro-Defense Facility (NBAF)
  • To introduce students to the role of industry in infectious disease research and translation to commercial products
  • To provide networking opportunities with peers and subject matter experts in the field of high-containment research and transboundary diseases of animals

Successful applicants will receive a travel stipend up to $2,000 to cover transportation (to and from Manhattan, Kansas), lodging and per diem expenses.  Applicants residing in or near the Manhattan, Kansas area may not be eligible to receive a travel stipend. An on-campus housing option is available.

A certificate of completion for the program will be provided to signify the student has attended the program and is familiar with basic knowledge of working in BSL-3 environments. 

Please note due to the impact of COVID-19, this program will be a combination of in-person and virtual presentations.  Social distancing guidelines to maintain a distance of 6 feet apart will be followed by all individuals involved in the program. Masks will be mandatory based on the CDC guidelines.

Click here to apply!

More information: Click here!

 

January 15, 2021

Dr. Juergen Richt receives research award from the University of Kansas The Director of the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD) and the Center on Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (CEZID) at Kansas State University has received a prestigious award presented by the University of Kansas. Dr. Juergen A. Richt, Regents and University Distinguished Professor at KSU and director of CEEZAD and CEZID, has been selected as a 2021 recipient of the Dolph C. Simons Sr. Award in the biomedical sciences. The Research Achievement Award, established by Prof. Takeru Higuchi and Mrs. Higuchi, includes $10,000. Richt said it is a “tremendous honor” to receive such a prestigious award from the University of Kansas. He expressed gratitude for the confidence the award showed in the focus of his research, which is zoonotic and emerging pathogens. “Since more than half of all human diseases and the vast majority of emerging diseases are zoonotic in nature, we believe this is an area of tremendous importance to the future of biomedical research and to society at large,” he said.

http://news.ku.edu/ku-ksu-faculty-named-recipients-higuchi-ku-endowment-research-achievement-awards

 

January 6, 2021

Dr. Richt to discuss Covid-19 research in January 27 lecture at the Mossberg Honors Symposium

The Director of the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD) and the Center on Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (CEZID) at Kansas State University will lecture at the University of Kansas in January on recently conducted research.

Dr. Juergen A. Richt, Regents and University Distinguished Professor at Kansas State University, will deliver the keynote address at KU’s Mossberg Honors Symposium Jan. 27. His address, titled, “Ventures into Covid-19 Research: About Pigs, Cats and Hamsters,” will take place at 9 a.m.

The symposium is presented by the School of Pharmacy at KU. It will be conducted via Zoom.

The unprecedented current pandemic caused by SARS CoV-2 has accelerated research on the epidemiology and pathogenesis of the virus. Since humans do not have pre-existing immunity to SARS-CoV-2, there has been an urgent need to develop and test therapeutic agents and vaccines. Both the U.S. and the World Health Organization have launched campaigns to develop and test therapeutic agents and vaccines. That testing has necessarily involved animal models that provide measurable readouts for potential countermeasures.

In his lecture, Dr. Richt will discuss some of the Covid-19-related research conducted in his laboratory at KSU. The focus will be on describing preclinical animal models for Covid-19 and their use to inform public and animal heath as well as determining the efficacy of therapeutic agents.

January 3, 2021

"Investing in basic science": K-State research on virus mutations in animals could benefit human fight against COVID-19

https://themercury.com/news/investing-in-basic-science-k-state-research-on-virus-mutations-in-animals-could-benefit-human/article_d531ee28-193e-57a3-8171-b97d07a81e3d.html