2016 Press Releases
December 5, 2016
Support Sought for Fight Against Lyme Disease in Canada
Carrie Weiss hopes that in the immediate future, the government and medical community through Canada; will formally recognize the existence of a disease already widely known in the United States.
Weiss is co-founder of a non-profit, federally incorporated organization called Lyme Out Loud Kids Canada. Its stated mission, outlined on the organization’s website, www.lymeoutloudkids.org, is to “protect children and their youth and their quality of life now and for the future. It strives to ensure that Lyme Disease “will be recognized throughout Canada in all avenues of education, the medical community and government.”
“I work on humans,” Weiss said.” I am concerned about the neglected diseases and in Canada that is Lyme Disease.”
Lyme Disease is widely recognized in the United States. Each year, approximately 30,000 cases of Lyme disease are reported to the Centers For Disease Control by state health departments and the District of Columbia. About 95 percent of those cases were reported from 14 states, mostly in the northeastern United States.
The CDC says Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks. Typical symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and a characteristic skin rash called erythema migrans. If left untreated, infection can spread to joints, the heart, and the nervous system.
Lyme Disease is diagnosed based on symptoms, physical findings (e.g., rash), and the possibility of exposure to infected ticks. Laboratory testing is considered helpful if used correctly and performed with validated methods.
But if there is general recognition of the disease in the U.S., that is not so in Canada, where Weiss – who lives and works in Toronto -- says the government only reluctantly acknowledges its presence and provides no funds for its treatment.
To date, the only step taken has been the organization of a planning committee – the first in the nation’s history – to create a federal framework for Lyme Disease. It was held May 16 in Ottawa, the national capital, and was led by Canada’s chief public health officer. More than 800 persons attended, either personally, or via Skype or other electronic means. Among other things, they heard Dr. Ralph Hawkins, a physician with the International Lyme Disease Association, say that “we as a medical community in Canada are failing our patients.”
“What we heard,” said Hawkins of the Ottawa conference speakers, “reflected dismissiveness, clinical arrogance, condescending patients contact, prejudicial treatment and humiliation.”
She is now traveling the United States to meet “every great mind to let them know” about the problems related to the awareness, diagnosis and treatment of Lyme Disease in Canada.
“I am trying to break ground in Canada to have a broader view on the world stage (on Lyme Disease),” she says. Weiss reports that about 30,000 Canadians have Lyme Disease, yet “there are only three Lyme-Literate doctors in Canada.”
October 3, 2016
CEEZAD Transfers Diagnostic Technology Licenses to National Agricultural Genomic Service
The Kansas State University Research Foundation has licensed cutting-edge animal disease diagnostic technology to the National Agricultural Genotyping Center (NAGC). The research, funded by the US Department of Homeland Security and conducted facilitate the rapid diagnosis of pathogenicity associated with respiratory disease in cattle. The new technology will allow for more rapid detection and administration of treatment. Additionally, that technology will aid detection and control of foreign animal disease-causing organisms that might enter the US.
The license covers the application of MassTag PCR, a technology developed by CEEZAD in collaboration with Columbia University and in this case applied to cattle diseases by researchers at the KSU College of Veterinary Medicine. PCR, which stands for Polymerase Chain Reaction, is a standard laboratory tool to rapidly identify infectious organisms in a disease situation.
A PCR assay detects genetic sequences of an organism in a laboratory sample, such as tissue, fluids, and swabs. Until now, the PCR test could only identify up to a maximum of three different pathogens in one diagnostic sample. For detection of more than three pathogens, two or more PCR tests have to be performed, increasing the cost and time necessary for performing the procedure.
In contrast, the Mass-Tag PCR system can detect up to 25 organisms that could be associated with the clinical disease observed simultaneously in a single assay. This translates PCR into a true multiplex diagnostic tool. It does this rapidly and at a much lower cost and time than performing the assay more than once to find the match of genetic material.
Licensing of knowledge related to the diagnosis of the Bovine Respiratory Disease Complex (BRDC) is important both because BRDC is the most common and costly disease affecting cattle in the world, and because its diagnosis is complex due to multiple possible causes. Also known as Shipping Fever, BRDC presents as pneumonia in cattle, requires immediate and expensive treatment, and is often fatal. It is estimated that BRDC causes more than $2 billion in losses annually to the U.S. cattle industry.
Located in Fargo, N.D., the National Agricultural Genotyping Center (NAGC) translates scientific discoveries into practical applications for production agriculture, food safety, functional foods, bioenergy and national security.
The Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases is headquartered at Kansas State University in Manhattan, KS. Its mission is to protect the nation’s agricultural and public health sectors against high-consequence foreign animal, emerging and zoonotic disease threats.
While the license arrangement presently covers only diagnostics associated with the Bovine Respiratory Disease Complex, NAGC and CEEZAD retain the option to license future know-how created for additional panels of food animal disease syndromes upon mutual agreement.
The idea is to provide the Department of Homeland Security and related agencies with state-of-the-art multiplex diagnostic technologies for pathogen surveillance and discovery in order to protect American agriculture through rapid detection of newly emerging agents, and implementation of operator-safe assay platforms.
“It is gratifying that this novel and exciting technology will soon be applied in the field to support livestock production by reducing the time to diagnose the cause of a disease so that targeted treatment can be initiated as quickly as possible,” stated Dr. Juergen Richt, Director of CEEZAD. “This could be a game-changer.”
September 2, 2016
Dr. Juergen Richt, Director of the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases at Kansas State University, Interview by KMAN staff.
Dr. Juergen Richt, director of the Center of Excellence for Emerging Zoonotic and Animal Diseases (CEEZAD), was interviewed Sept. 2, 2016 on the various missions of CEEZAD.
Cathy Dawes, news director of radio station KMAN in Manhattan, interviewed Dr. Richt on the “In Focus” program. During that interview, Dr. Richt discussed CEEZAD’s mission to defend U.S. agricultural systems against emerging pathogenic threats, both accidental and deliberate.
The two also discussed a $2.3 million federal grant recently awarded to CEEZAD that will be used to research the safety of newly developed vaccines against the Ebola virus.
Dr. Richt also explained the relationship between CEEZAD and the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility, a $1.3 billion level 4 federal lab now under construction on the Kansas State University campus. He noted that part of CEEZAD’s mission in coming years will be to assist in development of a workforce capable of staffing the NBAF, and assisting in the transition of research from Plum Island, when the NBAF opens around 2023.
To listen to Dr. Richt’s interview, click on the attached link: http://1350kman.com/focus-9216-2/
August 29, 2016
CEEZAD Advances Fight Against Rift Valley Fever on Several Fronts
Think of it as a triple play in the world of scientific publications. Researchers at the Center of Excellence for Emerging Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD) are celebrating the recent publication of a series of scientific articles, each advancing the world’s ability to fight the virus that causes Rift Valley Fever.
The first study, published in the February 2016 edition of Virology (2016 Vol. 4891, 128-140), describes the protocol for a new sheep challenge model for the virus. Dr. Bonto Faburay, a research assistant professor in the Department of Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology at K-State’s College of Veterinary Medicine, was lead author and Dr. Juergen A. Richt, Regents Distinguished Professor at K-State, was the senior author.
The second study, published in the May 2016 edition of the journal Viruses (2016, Vol. 8, 145), describes a novel challenge model for Rift Valley Fever Virus infection of calves. Lead authors of that study were Dr. William Wilson, a research microbiologist at the Department of Agriculture’s Arthropod-Borne Animal Diseases Research Unit in Manhattan, Ks., and Dr. A. Sally Davis, of the Department of Diagnostic Medicine/Pathology at Kansas State University. Dr. Richt was the senior author of this study.
The third study, published in the June 2016 edition of Nature Scientific Report (2016, Vol. 6, 27791), follows up on the first study – the one describing the sheep RVFV challenge model -- and fuels hope for the development of a vaccine to protect livestock from Rift Valley Fever. That study, also led by Faburay and authored by Dr. Richt, found that a recombinant subunit vaccine candidate composed of certain RVFV surface glycoprotein components was effective in protecting sheep against Rift Valley Fever.
Rift Valley Fever is a zoonotic disease – meaning it is capable of being transmitted from animals to humans – found largely in Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. In sheep, goats and cattle, the disease causes mass abortion and high mortality in newborn animals. Rift Valley Fever was first reported outside the African continent in 2000 when cases were reported in Yemen and Saudi Arabia on the Arabian Peninsula. This demonstrated the potential for the virus to spread to other continents and non-endemic areas.
The largest human outbreak of Rift Valley Fever occurred in the mid 1970s in Egypt, infecting 80,000 persons with nearly 600 deaths. Although there have been no outbreaks in the United States, researchers see a substantial risk to U.S. public health and food security, given the presence of mosquitos in the U.S. that are capable of transmitting the virus.
Rift Valley Fever Virus is also viewed as a potential biological weapon, prompting the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to characterize it as a “Priority A” pathogen.
A challenge model is a protocol by which lab animals are inoculated with a strain of a virus in order to determine the optimal amount of virus required to induce clinical response in the experimentally infected animals. The Virology article spells out new protocols for testing the effectiveness of novel vaccines in sheep. The sheep challenge model developed by the CEEZAD team favors a strain of Rift Valley Fever Virus taken from the 2006-07 outbreak in Kenya. The researchers tested both this RVFV strain and a second strain taken from the 2000 outbreak in Saudi Arabia, finding that the Kenya strain induced more clinical signs, more severe liver damage and longer and higher viremia in sheep.
Faburay said the new ruminant challenge model demonstrates for the first time an experimental model target species inducing a peracute and lethal form of Rift Valley fever caused by a wild type RVFV strain and should represent a superior model to those that have been in place for years. He said the development of a more virulent challenge model is an important step in the process of developing a vaccine against Rift Valley Fever. “If your virus isn’t causing any clinical effects (in challenged animals), you cannot compare your results against your non-vaccinated control group,” he explained. The more effective Kenya 06 strain-based challenge model allows for more objective evaluation of new RVF vaccines in development.
“This work using wild-type RVFV is the first time since the 1980s that RVFV was inoculated into livestock in the U.S.,” Dr. Richt noted. The last experiments were done at Plum Island. He described the advance as “another example of how K-State scientists working at the BRI are supporting the transition of research from Plum Island to K-State and eventually NBAF and also train a workforce which is capable of handling the future research needs at the new NBAF facility.”
In addition to Faburay and Richt, the research team included Natasha Gaudrealt, Qinfang Liu, A. Sally Davis, Vinay Shivanna, Sun Young Sunwoo, Yueken Lang, Igor Morozov, and Wenjun Ma, all also from the Department of Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology at K-State. Other team members included Mark Ruder, Barbara Drolet, D. Scott McVey and William Wilson, all from the Arthropod Borne Animal Disease Research Unit (ABADRU) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture based in Manhattan, Ks.
The study published in Nature Scientific Report was also conducted by CEEZAD researchers in collaboration with researchers at ABADRU. In that study, CEEZAD researchers developed and evaluated the efficacy of a recombinant subunit RVFV vaccine candidate composed of the two surface glycoproteins Gu and Gc of the RVF virus. A group of sheep was vaccinated with the subunit vaccine candidate and, later, they and an unvaccinated control group were infected with the virulent strain Kenya 06 virus. The vaccine elicited high virus neutralizing antibody titers and conferred complete protection in all vaccinated sheep, while the unvaccinated sheep showed clinical signs of RVF. Further, the vaccine meets the highly desirable property of being DIVA – Distinguishing Infected from Vaccinated Animals – compatible, allowing identification of vaccinated versus wild infected animals with a simple blood test.
According to Dr. Richt, director of CEEZAD, the vaccine should meet the requirements for consideration for inclusion in the US Veterinary Vaccine Stockpile after USDA – CVB licensure procedures are completed for use in controlling a potential outbreak. “The CEEZAD team focused on the subunit vaccine platform due to its high safety profile, its efficacy, its DIVA compatibility, and its ease of manufacturing, which can be done in the U.S.,” he said. “This makes the vaccine most appropriate for use in the U.S. to protect domestic livestock and potentially wildlife from potential accidental or intentional introduction of RVFV.”
In addition to Faburay, CEEZAD co-investigators included Gaudrealt, Davis, Shivanna, Bhupindar Bawa, Sunwoo, Ma, Morozov, Richt and Bhupindar Bawa from KSU as well as Wilson, Drolet and McVey from ABADRU.
In the article published in the journal Viruses, results of the RVFV challenge model for sheep were extended to cattle. Again, animals were infected with either the Kenya 06 or the Saudi 01 virus. As in the study using sheep, the results demonstrated that the Kenya 06 strain of the virus produced a more virulent challenge model in calves, making it the superior choice for vaccine efficacy studies in cattle.
Because the results of the three studies have now been published in internationally recognized, well-respected journals, it will be possible for researchers and laboratories worldwide that are involved in Rift Valley Fever Virus research to apply the new and more effective RVFV livestock challenge models.
In addition to Wilson, co-investigators included Gaudrealt, Davis, Shivanna, Sunwoo, Ma, Morozov, Richt, Faburay, J.D. Trujillo and Aaron Balogh from KSU as well as McVey and Mark Ruder from ABADRU.
CEEZAD is a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence. To see the latest developments, visit our website at www.ceezad.org
August 17, 2016
CEEZAD Hosts Two DHS-Sponsored Summer Research Teams
Magnus Scott, Jr. and Dr. Steve Zeng-Langston University
A faculty/student research team from Langston University has completed a summer project at Kansas State University designed to test for the presence of E.coli in goat byproducts on Kansas farms.
The participants, Magnus Scott Jr., a senior-to-be at Langston, and Dr. Steve Zeng, an assistant professor in dairy production at the school, took part in the 10-week research program under the auspices of the Center of Excellence for Zoonotic and Animal Diseases (CEEZAD) at Kansas State University and funded by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Their work was overseen by Dr. Jianfa Bai, an assistant professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University responsible for Molecular Research and Development at the Kansas State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory (KSVDL).
Dr. Jessica Green, project coordinator for CEEZAD, said the team’s research proposal was chosen from among a large number of applications. The Centers for Disease Control describes E.coli as a type of bacteria normally living in the intestines of people and animals. Although most forms of the bacteria are harmless, someare pathogenic, meaning they can cause illness, either diarrhea or illness outside of the intestinal tract. Those types can be transmitted through contaminated water or food, or through contact with animals or persons. An estimated 265,000 E.coli infections occur each year in the United States. Scott’s research focused on processes of identifying those pathogenic types in goats because of the increasing popularity of goat milk as a niche market in the United States, where it is used in cheese, powdered milk, ice cream and yogurt.
The process employed by Scott and Dr. Zeng involved collecting goat milk and fecal samples at three locations – Langston University’s own goat farm as well as operating farms in Lecompton and Victoria, Kansas. More than 100 milk samples and more than 90 fecal samples were analyzed in Dr. Bai’s lab at the KSVDL, all of them determined not to contain dangerous amounts of the pathogenic type of E.coli bacteria.
Scott said his research identified four primary implications and outcomes: Goat feces and the farm environment are reservoirs of E. coli strains; good practices in milking, farm management and health control must be followed to eliminate contamination of E. coli in goat milk for human consumption; the study enhanced his own personal experience and research skills; the experience will also enhance Langston University’s undergraduate research capacity.
Scott said the mere experience of doing the field and lab work was the real benefit. “I was able to soak everything up,” he said. Now he hopes to return to Langston for his senior year with an eye toward teaching some of the school’s freshmen about the importance of research in agriculture. He is now strongly considering graduate school, and some day making Langston a research center that hosts grant programs such as the one he has just completed at K-State. “We want to let (people) know that Langston University is significant,” he said.
Dr. Juergen Richt, Regents Distinguished Professor of Pathobiology at Kansas State and director of CEEZAD, said Scott’s experience illustrated the value of the summer program as a means of exploring one’s career paths. “Magnus wanted to study social work, but Dr. Zeng talked him into doing this summer program,” Richt said. “Now he is “hooked” on science and wants to use his skills to work with disadvantaged kids and young adults to introduce them to the world of science.”
Scott is balancing his academic studies at Langston with another pursuit: track. He is a sprint specialist on the Langston team, his credits including a 10.58 time in the 100 meter dash at the 2016 NAIA track championships. He hopes to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games representing Liberia, the nation where his father was born.
Although he is a native of Langston, Scott left home as a freshman to run track at K-State, where he was an open option major for his first two years. But during visits back home, conversations with friends gradually drew him to the realization that he enjoyed agriculture. “We use ag every day,” he noted. So he transferred to Langston as a junior, focusing on the dairy goat industry. Today he owns three acres of land that could become the basis for expanded farming pursuits later in life.
Dr. Zeng and Scott were hosted by CEEZAD as part of the DHS Office of University Program’s Summer Research Team for Minority Serving Institutions program. The program is intended to engage faculty and student research teams in summer research collaborations at university-based DHS Centers of Excellence with the hope of establishing long-term connections in order to “build a diverse, highly capable technical workforce for the homeland security enterprise.”
It could bear additional fruit for Langston. The teams are eligible to apply for $50K in follow-on funding from DHS at the end of the 10-week program, and Dr. Zeng has already begun the application process. While a final decision on that application remains pending, DHS officials have expressed their pleasure at being able to work for the first time with Langston.
Kayla Bailey and Dr. Matthewos Eshete-Mississippi Valley State University
A participant in a summer program funded by the Department of Homeland Security and overseen by the Center of Excellence for Emerging Zoonotic and Animal Diseases (CEEZAD) hopes the lessons she learned during her 10-week stay at Kansas State will take root on her home campus.
Kayla Bailey, a student at Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Bena, Miss., examined the binding interactions between proteins and biodegradable nanoparticles. Having completed the study, Bailey is enthusiastic about using her newfound knowledge to expand science horizons at Mississippi Valley State.
She intends to join Women in Science and Technology (a campus club) aimed at women who are STEM majors. “Club members work with young girls in the local community, telling them about the positive and fulfilling aspects of STEM programs,” she explained. “Hopefully, I will get the opportunity to speak about my research experience and how much it helped me.”
Dr. Jessica Green, project coordinator for CEEZAD, said the team’s research proposal was chosen from among a large number of applications. At K-State, her work was overseen by Dr. Seong-O Choi, an assistant professor of anatomy and physiology and a core faculty member in the Nanotechnology Innovation Center of Kansas State, or NICKS.
Biodegradable nanoparticles are polymers containing great potential in delivering 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.
“This investigation has the ability to shed light on the topic to those who have never heard of the evolutionary technology,” Bailey wrote in her summary report of her summer experience. She said nanoparticles “have the capability of becoming a better solution to so many problems and each study can only contribute to the success of nanotechnology.”
Her experience at K-State was featured in the campus newsletter, meaning Mississippi Valley State student awareness of such summer opportunities will be increased. “It will let my fellow students know that they can obtain the similar accomplishments that I have and that it is very possible to be a successful MVSU student,” she said.
The learning environment in campus chemistry labs should also benefit. Bailey was accompanied during her work at K-State by Dr. Matthewos Eshete, an associate professor of chemistry at Mississippi Valley State. Dr. Eshete teaches general chemistry for freshman students and Biochemistry and Research method courses for senior students. He said he intends to integrate the project in his lab at MVSU. “I am also planning to include nanoparticles and their application as one of presentation topics in my research methods class that I am teaching as well as in seminar classes,” he said. “This will help students to get some understanding about nanoparticles and their applications.”
Dr. Eshete was also able to use the summer experience to expand his own knowledge base, collaborating with Dr. Choi and Dr. Santos Aryal, an assistant professor of chemistry and NICKS faculty member, on interaction of biodegradable nanoparticles with proteins of the immune system.
Dr. Eshete described nanoparticles as “products of cutting-age technology with promising and tremendous potential applications, including vaccine and drug delivery.” But he said molecular research is critical to making effective use of them. “In this project an effort has been put forth toward understanding of the molecular level interaction of biodegradable (nanoparticles), which are possible drug delivery agents, with proteins in the innate immune systems,” he said. Dr. Eshete described the project goal “as a better understanding of the required modification of nanoparticles for their efficacy in drug delivery… in line with the mission to enhance the capability of the US Department of Homeland Security.”
The research experience opened Bailey’s eyes to the possibilities inherent in science. “Before this research experience, I was uncertain about my career plans,” she said. Working in a laboratory setting, she discovered a strong affinity for cosmetic sciences. “I realized I really enjoyed being in the lab and it is something I could see myself doing for the rest of my life,” she said.
Now, she said, she envisions a career as a cosmetic chemist. “There are several different jobs that fall under that category such as formulators, quality control chemists, synthesis chemists etc.” She said she has not decided on a focus yet, “but I know that I want to work within this specific industry.”
August 1, 2016
CEEZAD Receives $2.3 Million for Vaccine Research
The Center of Excellence for Emerging Zoonotic and Animal Diseases (CEEZAD) has recently received a $2.3 million grant from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) to conduct research on the safety in livestock of a newly developed vaccine to protect humans against infection with the Ebola Zaire virus. DTRA is an agency within the US Department of Defense.
The grant, from DTRA in a collaboration with the commercial firm NewLink Genetics, includes a $100,000 matching contribution from the State of Kansas’ NBAF Transition Funds. KSU researchers will study the safety of the vaccine in swine, cattle, and horses in KSU’s Biosecurity Research Institute.
The vaccine is called “VSV-ZEBOV,” which is an acronym for vesicular stomatitis virus, a virus with particular importance to farmers since it can infect cattle and its clinically presentation is identical to the foot and mouth disease virus, and the Zaire strain of Ebola virus, the main strain that causes the severe, often fatal, Ebola hemorrhagic fever disease in humans. The virus is thought to be transmitted to people from an as-yet unidentified wild animal reservoir, and then spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission. The average disease case fatality rate is around 50%, but has varied from 25% to 90% in various outbreaks.
Dr. Juergen A. Richt, the Regents Distinguished Professor at KSU, will be the principal investigator for the project. The live, recombinant vaccine consists of an attenuated Indiana strain of VSV, wherein the surface glycoprotein component of VSV has been replaced with the Ebola virus glycoprotein component in order to induce protective immunity against the Ebola Zaire virus.
“We are very excited to begin research to test the safety of this vaccine, the only efficacious Ebola virus vaccine yet, for safety in livestock at KSU”, said Dr. Richt in announcing receipt of the award. “As the world saw with the deadly 2014 outbreak in West Africa, Ebola is one of the most serious emerging zoonotic threats to humans,” Dr. Richt took particular note of “the generous contribution of $100,000 from the NBAF Transition Funds toward the study.”
Zoonotic diseases are those capable of being transmitted from animals to humans and vice-versa. It is thought that Ebola virus, which was first identified in 1976, is introduced into the human population through close contact with infected animals such as chimpanzees, gorillas, bats, monkeys, maybe antelope and porcupines. It is also possible that the Ebola virus can be transmitted through sexual contact involving already-infected persons. The Zaire species of Ebola virus is one of five species that have been identified, and has been associated with large disease outbreaks in Africa – including the 2014 West African outbreak infected an estimated 28,600 people and resulted in more than 11,000 deaths.
At KSU, the researcher will test the safety of the vaccine in swine, cattle and horses; it needs to be noted that no infectious Ebola virus will be used during these studies at KSU. The work will provide information to supplement the overall safety of the VSV-ZEBOV vaccine.
CEEZAD is a US Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence established in 2010 at the Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine.
July 26, 2016
CEEZAD Researchers Develop Improved Protocol for Rift Valley Fever Virus Challenge in Sheep
Researchers worldwide should benefit from a newly developed challenge model for Rift Valley Fever (RVF) in sheep published recently by scientists at the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD).
Details of the new RVF animal model were published in the February 2016 edition of “Virology” with Dr. Bonto Faburay, a research assistant professor in the Department of Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology at K-State’s College of Veterinary Medicine, as lead author and Dr. Juergen Richt, the Regents Distinguished Professor at K-State, as the senior author. The findings represent the conclusion of several years of research at Kansas State University’s Biosecurity Research Institute (BRI). The new small ruminant challenge model demonstrates for the first time a peracute, lethal form of Rift Valley fever caused by a recently isolatedwild type RVF virus (RVFV) strain from the 2006/2007 RVF outbreak in Kenya and should represent a superior model to those that have been in place for years.
An virus challenge model in target animal species is a protocol by which animals of choice are inoculated with a strain of a specific virus in order to determine the outcome of the infection and the optimal amount of virus required to induce clinical response in the experimentally infected animals. This information is required in order to study the pathogenesis of viruses in animals or to test the effectiveness of vaccines.. The animal challenge model developed by the CEEZAD team utilizes a strain of Rift Valley Fever Virus taken from the 2006-07 outbreak in Kenya. The researchers tested both, the Kenya strain and a second strain taken from the 2000 outbreak in Saudi Arabia, finding that the Kenya strain induced more severe viremia (virus replication in the blood) as well as clinical and pathological signs (e.g. liver damage) in sheep.
Rift Valley Fever is a zoonotic viral disease – meaning it is capable of being transmitted from animals to humans and potentially vice versa – found largely in various parts of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. In ruminants (sheep, goats and cattle), the disease causes mass abortions and high mortality in newborn animals. More than 200,000 cases of the disease have been verified in humans since an outbreak in 1977, with nearly 600 deaths during a mid 1970s outbreak in Egypt alone. Although there have been no RVF outbreaks in the United States, researchers see a substantial risk to U.S. livestock and public health, given the presence of mosquitos in the U.S. that are capable of transmitting the virus. RVFV is also viewed as a potential biological weapon, prompting the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to characterize it as a high-priority agent.
Dr. Faburay said “the development of a more virulent strain of a challenge model is an important step in the process of developing a vaccine against Rift Valley Fever”. If your virus isn’t causing any effects (in challenged animals), you cannot compare your results against your control group,” he explained. The more virulent challenge model, then, allows for more objective evaluation of the efficacy of new vaccines. Dr Richt added “This is the first time since the 1980s that RVFV was inoculated into livestock in the mainland U.S. (The last expeirments were done at Plum Island.) This is another example of how K-State scientists working at the BRI are supporting the transition of research from Plum Island to K-State and eventually NBAF and train a workforce which is capable of handling the future research needs at the new NBAF”.
Because the results of the study have now been published, it will be possible for laboratories around the world that are involved in research into Rift Valley Fever Virus to apply this new and virulent challenge model in sheep.
In addition to Faburay, the research team included Natasha Gaudrealt, Qinfang Liu, A. Sally Davis, Vinay Shivanna, Sun Young Sunwoo, Yueken Lang, Igor Morozov, Wenjun Ma and Juergen Richt, all also from the Department of Diagnostic Medicine/Pathobiology at K-State. Other team members included Mark Ruder, Barbara Drolet, D. Scott McVey and William Wilson, all from the Arthropod Borne Animal Disease Research Unit of the U.S. Department of Agriculture based in Manhattan, Ks.
CEEZAD is a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence. To view additional developments at CEEZAD, visit our website at www.ceezad.org
July 25, 2016
CEEZAD Transboundary Animal Disease Summer Program Provides a Unique Opportunity for Future Veterinary Professionals
See LifeLines issue: http://www.vet.k-state.edu/lifelines/1607.html
July 5, 2016
CEEZAD Working On African Swine Fever Vaccine
Researchers at the DHS-funded Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD) are leading an effort to develop and evaluate a safe and efficacious vaccine against African Swine Fever Virus (ASFV).
Lead investigators for the project are Dr. Yolanda Revilla Novella, ASFV laboratory head for the Centro de Biologia Molecular Severo Ochoa (CBMSO) based in Madrid, Spain, and Dr. Juergen Richt, Regents Distinguished Professor of Diagnostic Medicine and Pathobiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University. Richt is also the Director of CEEZAD.
African Swine Fever Virus is a double-stranded DNA virus that causes African Swine Fever (ASF), a highly contagious disease for which there is no cure. Disease control is currently based on rapid and accurate diagnosis and culling of infected animals. The disease causes significant economic losses in affected countries due to the high mortality rates and export restrictions for pork and pork products. Beyond that, since eradication of infected pig populations is currently the only effective form of control, owners of even non-infected pigs can be impacted. Although there are no accurate dollar figures available for the damage done by ASF worldwide, the value of the pig population in Spain, where an ASF outbreak took place between 1985 and 1995, was estimated at 1.4 million Euros ($1.55 million) at the time. The damage from a similar outbreak in the Baltic States of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in 2014 has been estimated at 50 million Euros (about $55.5 million), with uncalculated additional damage in other affected areas, including Russia, where it spread in 2007.
While the disease does not infect humans and has not yet been found in the United States, it is viewed as a serious problem in Africa and Eastern Europe, and there have been outbreaks in other countries. “ASF is spreading in many areas of the world which means that there is an increasing threat of introduction into the United States,” Stephen Higgs, research director of the BRI, told a symposium on the subject in 2012.
At present, absence of an effective and safe vaccine against ASFV severely hampers strategies for disease control and eradication. The project’s focus is to produce a vaccine utilizing a new approach: combining recombinant ASFV proteins and plasmid DNAs for vaccination.
The test protocol calls for groups of pigs to be challenged at both KSU and CBMSO under BSL-3Ag conditions after a heterologous prime-boost DNA and baculovirus2 -expressed protein immunization strategy. BSL-3 facilities are required for containment of the organism and infected animals to prevent spread of the ASFV and, in some cases, to protect workers; personnel working in these facilities have special training to handle these types of organisms.
Following completion of the vaccination protocol, subject pigs will be inoculated with samples of a highly-virulent ASFV isolate to determine the efficacy of the vaccine. Unprotected swine normally die within four to nine days of infection with the virus. Additionally, clinical signs of African Swine Fever – lethargy, fever, diarrhea, neurologic signs – will be measured daily to allow comparison between groups.
The work is expected to continue through June 2016.
"Some of this material is based upon work supported by the U. S. Department of Homeland Security under the Center of Excellence of Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases Grant Award Number 2010-ST061-AG0001.”
 African Swine Fever Represents Growing Global Threat,” NationalHogFarmer.com, May 18, 2012
June 24, 2016
CEEZAD BSL-3 Training/Transboundary Animal Disease Summer Program Provides a Unique Opportunity for Future Veterinary Professionals
Ten future veterinary professionals with an interest in transboundary disease research took part in a two-week training program conducted by the Center of Excellence for Emerging Zoonotic and Animal Diseases (CEEZAD) at Kansas State University in coordination with the Kansas State University Biosecurity Research Institute (BRI).
The program involved one week of exposure to operations, safety techniques and lab principles of high-containment BSL-3 work at the Biosecurity Research Institute at Kansas State University followed by a second week of visits to institutions involved in the animal health industry and lectures. Students, representing 10 universities from around the country, heard from prominent professionals in the area of zoonotic and transboundary disease research. The participants include students in veterinary medicine, doctoral students and post-DVM residents.
Pictured: (Top Left to Right) Matthew Riley, Marie Keith, Tessa LeCuyer, Kim Conway, Jonathan Miller, Steve Ellsworth, Jessica Green, Claire Croutch (MRI Global); (Bottom Left to Right) Darla Quijada, Sarah Kezar, Kelly Charniga, Sara Townsend, Martha Hensel, Nicole DeAngelis
Participants are: Jonathan Miller, University of Wyoming; Kelly Charniga, University of Michigan; Kim Conway, University of California-Davis; Marie Keith, Kansas State University; Martha Hensel, Texas A&M University; Matthew Riley, University of Tennessee; Nicole DeAngelis, North Carolina State University; Sarah Kezar, Auburn University; Sarah Townsend, University of Florida; and Tessa LeCuyer, Washington State University. The program was overseen by Dr. Jessica Green, project coordinator for CEEZAD and Dr. Juergen Richt, Director of CEEZAD.
Dr. Steve Ellsworth introduces the participants to the program during an orientation at the Biosecurity Research Institute.
Dr. Steven Ellsworth, assistant director of CEEZAD, told participants they are training for careers in a field that is important to the protection of the nation’s food animal industry, and thus to the food supply. “All we work on and fund is research on diseases that are exotic to the United States…that the Department of Homeland Security and the USDA is concerned could get into the United States,” Dr. Ellsworth told the participants. “What can we do to prevent these diseases from getting into the U.S. … or contain an outbreak?” He said CEEZAD is also tasked with training a specialized workforce to help defend American agricultural systems and to help the transition of the Plum Island Animal Disease Center (PIADC) to the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility (NBAF), a task they could find themselves pursuing in their professional careers.
Dr. Steven Higgs, director of the Kansas State University Biosecurity Research Institute (BRI), told participants they were studying at “one of the country’s most modern laboratories to deal with animal diseases.” The BRI is a level 3 facility, the second most secure designation.
The students came to Manhattan with a variety of hopes and aspirations, although most envision a future in some aspect of disease research.
Tessa LeCuyer, for example, is a veterinarian who works in a lab while combining her clinical residency with a doctoral program at Washington State. She saw particular benefit in learning the level 3 BSL procedures in place at the BRI. “We always have the potential to come across higher-consequence pathogens,” she explained.
Sarah Kezar has been fascinated by biomechanics since high school which has led her to both a BS from University of Virginia and an MS from University of Alabama-Birmingham in biomedical engineering. Currently, as a first year DVM student at Auburn University, she enrolled in the summer program in the hope of enriching her knowledge of genetic engineering, particularly with respect to the OneHealth concept.
Jonathan Miller, who is about to begin veterinary school at Washington State, hopes to do research in infectious diseases. “CEEZAD’s mission is directly in line with my career goals,” he said, noting the training and networking possibilities he hoped to take advantage of during the summer program.
Marie Keith, who is from K-State, was drawn to the program due to an interest in transboundary diseases. She hopes to pursue a career in outbreaks investigation, possibly with the CDC or WHO. At K-State, she is combining her veterinary studies with a focus on public health.
Students spent the first week of the program at the BRI practicing how to operate in high-consequence animal disease environments. This included sessions designed to familiarize them with how to safely wear protective clothing and how to use personal disinfection techniques in BSL-3 facilities. They also spent a session practicing the safe preparation, handling and storage of laboratory agents, as well as the safe disposal of lab materials.
Students are trained to use personal protective equipment (PPE).
All of the participants praised the concluding mini-symposium, which brought in experts on emerging and zoonotic diseases for a discussion of the latest developments in their field. Those experts included a panel of authorities such as Dr. Heinz Feldmann (NIH-NIAID, Rocky Mountain Laboratory); Dr. Don King (The Pirbright Institute, UK), Dr. Luis Rodriguez (Plum Island Animal Disease Center), Dr. Brian Bird (Univrsity of California-Davis), Dr. Paul Gibbs (Kansas State University), Dr. Michelle Colby (Department of Homeland Security), Dr. Marty Vanier (Department of Homeland Security), Dr. Ron Trewyn (Kansas State University) and Dr. Beth Lautner (USDA-APHIS), who discussed topics ranging from the West African Ebola epidemic, Foot-and-Mouth Disease outbreaks, African swine fever research, Rift Valley fever vaccine and an update on progress toward the opening of the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility (NBAF), which is being constructed on the Kansas State University campus. The students were also able to participate in classroom lectures given by experts such as Dr. Young Lyoo from Konkuk University and Dr. Larry Barrett from the Department of Homeland Security as well as local experts from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University which included Dr. Alfonso Clavijo, Dr. A. Sally Davis, and Dr. Lina Mur.
Students had the opportunity to interact with mini-symposium speakers during an end-of-program event.
Pictured: (Left to Right) Nicole DeAngelis, Kelly Charniga, Sarah Kezar, Dr. Beth Lautner (USDA-APHIS)
The idea was to grow the field of future veterinary health researchers utilizing funding provided by the Department of Homeland Security.
June 24, 2016
Officials of the Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases (CEEZAD) celebrated the opening of its new headquarters June 22 with an open house attended by dozens of representatives from the animal health industry.
Dr. Juergen Richt, Regents Distinguished Professor of Diagnostic Medicine and Pathology at Kansas State University and director of CEEZAD, welcomed the dignitaries at an evening reception held at the offices, which are in the KSU Office Park. The building, which is also home to the KSU Foundation, opened in the fall of 2015.
CEEZAD is a Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence with a focus on the protection of the nation’s agricultural and public health sectors against high-consequence foreign animal, emerging and zoonotic disease threats. It was established in 2010. Although it has a broad mission, CEEZAD scientists concentrate their efforts in four principal areas:
- Development of novel, DIVA-compatible vaccine platforms 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 detection of emerging disease threats.
- Development of models to predict high-consequence disease behavior in the U.S. in order to aid prevention and outbreak control.
- Development of sustainable education and training programs for students, veterinarians, first responders and researchers in high-impact animal diseases.
Dr. Richt welcomed participants with a clear message that CEEZAD’s mission would be enhanced in its new headquarters. “As you take it in today, I’m sure you will agree with me that it is a fine, modern facility, fully appropriate for carrying forward the center’s mission of making America, and the world, safe,” he said.
He noted that CEEZAD has since its inception researched efforts to enhance biodefense via threat awareness, vulnerability assessments, surveillance and detection, and response and recovery. “We conduct research, develop technology and train a specialized workforce to help defend U.S. agricultural systems against agroterrorism and other catastrophic events caused by high-threat transboundary, emerging and zoonotic pathogens,” he said.
Among accomplishments cited by Dr. Richt to date:
- Development of a novel, DIVA-compatible vaccine for Rift Valley Fever Virus. This vaccine, currently undergoing commercial scale-up, would allow for a diagnostic assay to differentiate infected from vaccinated animals, an important component of outbreak control.
- Development of Rift Valley Fever mitigation strategies. Using mosquito population surveillance data, climate data and simulation models of RVFV transmission in cattle, CEEZAD and its research partners are developing an early warning model system and testing efficient mitigation strategies for potential RVF outbreaks in the U.S., including the effects of mosquito control and livestock movement regulations.
- Development of a High Path Avian Influenza Vaccine. Researchers supported by CEEZAD have developed live and inactivated Newcastle Disease virus-vectored vaccine candidates that protect chickens against H7N9, H5N1, and novel H5N2 avian influenza virus challenges.
- Development of a vaccine candidate for African Swine Fever.
- Development of a multiplex pathogen detection system. Scientists at Columbia University and KSU are developing MassTag multiplex PCR technology to rapidly screen laboratory samples for up to 25 pathogens simultaneously.
- Improvements in Point-Of-Care Diagnostics: CEEZAD, KSU and federal researchers are working with industry partners to develop and market a portable diagnostic assay, called PockIt, capable of detecting Rift Valley Fever Virus, Foot and Mouth Disease Virus, and African Swine Fever Virus.
“As we open and occupy these new offices, you can be assured that our efforts in all of these regards will continue and intensify,” Dr. Richt told attendees.
May 31, 2016
CEEZAD Researchers Advance MERS Testing Effort in Jordan
Two scientists from the Center of Excellence For Emerging Zoonotic and Animal Diseases (CEEZAD) at Kansas State University have just returned from a week-long visit to Jordan where they worked with a team from the NIH and local veterinarians on identifying and fighting cases of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
Juergen Richt, director of CEEZAD at K-State, and Chester McDowell, a CEEZAD research assistant, worked with scientists from the NIH and faculty in veterinary medicine from the Jordan University of Science and Technology (JUST) on the project, which focused on identifying the MERS Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in camels. The NIH team was led by Vincent Muenster, an expert on the study of MERS. The research team spent much of its time collecting sera and various swabs from camels living in the northeastern part of Jordan near that nation’s borders with Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Syria, finding the virus in young camels. Richt termed the effort "very successful."
MERS is a zoonotic disease, meaning it can be transmitted from animals to humans. First identified in 2012 in Saudi Arabia, it affects the respiratory system, most patients developing severe acute respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations reports that cases of MERS have been identified in nearly 30 countries worldwide, including two confirmed cases in the United States. Of 1,737 confirmed cases, 674 fatalities have been reported.
McDowell said a significant portion of the program also involved training personnel in Jordan to better enable them to analyze sera and swab samples taken from potentially infected animals. Both CEEZAD scientists predicted the effort would boost ongoing cooperation between JUST and CEEZAD.
In addition to testing for MERS, Richt, McDowell, the NIH team and the Jordanian scientists also tested animals for other common animal and zoonotic threats, including Rift Valley Fever Virus, Influenza A virus, bovine coronavirus and Schmallenberg virus. Richt said so far they did not find evidence of either of these viruses circulating in camels in that area.
They also spent two days collecting and sampling bats as potential carriers of known and unknown viruses. The arduous work involved hiking up and down hills and climbing into caves at temperatures that exceeded 100 degrees Fahrenheit. The bat samples will be shipped to the U.S. for further analysis.
May 27, 2016
Biosecurity Research Institute Awards Fellowships to CVM Faculty
The Biosecurity Research Institute, or BRI, presented awards to 13 researchers as inaugural members, including several CVM faculty and/or alumni, of the Marty Vanier and Bob Krause BRI Research Fellows Program at a ceremony and reception on April 29. The purpose of the program is to foster interdisciplinary research and educational opportunities and activities associated with the work the fellows are doing in areas such as high-consequence plant and animal diseases, foodborne disease agents, arthropod-borne diseases, and pathogens that can be passed from animals to humans.
Read more at K-State Lifelines
May 23, 2016
CEEZAD Members Demonstrate Point-of-Need Pathogen Detection Products at DHS Technology Showcase in Washington, D.C.
Two products that could re-define the way animal disease pathogens are identified were on display at the recent Department of Homeland Security Technology Showcase in Washington, D.C.
The products, in the final stages of development and evaluation by researchers at the Kansas State University-based Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Center of Excellence for Emerging Zoonotic and Animal Diseases (CEEZAD), were selected for live demonstration at the DHS Centers Of Excellence showcase in Washington DC on May 19, 2016. This was the first year of participation for CEEZAD in the DHS technology showcase, and it offered the opportunity to highlight CEEZAD high priority activities in the fight against agro- and bio-terrorism and food safety. Participation also promised to promote communication and potential collaboration among COE and interaction with potential product end-users.
Showcased products include the POCKIT Xpress Mobile Laboratory and the Taco Mini nucleic acid extraction system. In collaboration with industry partner GeneReach USA, the primary investigator, Dr. Jessie Trujillo, is developing and evaluating a suite of nucleic acid detection tests for high priority pathogen detection on the portable POCKIT iiPCR detection device. The Taco Mini is being evaluated as an automated means of rapidly attaining nucleic acid from clinical samples to be tested with the POCKIT. POCKIT is a unique machine in its ability to rapidly and cost-effectively perform insulated isothermic polymerase chain reaction (iiPCR) for the amplification and detection of pathogen nucleic acids. This instrument is designed to enable point-of-need and near-immediate and reliable detection to high-impact animal and human pathogens. Once scientifically evaluated utilizing a five stage evaluation pipeline developed by the primary investigator, the technology could play a key role in efforts to mitigate the economic and public health impacts of infectious agents, including transboundary diseases. Transboundary animal diseases (TADs) are those with the potential to cross national borders; those of particular concern to the US include Foot and Mouth Disease, Classical Swine Fever, African Swine Fever, and Rift Valley Fever. Moreover, the time to pathogen detection is directly proportional to economic and public and animal health impacts of an infectious agent– the shorter the detection time, the lower the impact.
Aside from its utility to foreign animals disease investigators, Dr. Trujillo believes POCKIT could have applications in border security and interstate livestock transport. “If somebody is looking at cows coming across the border with blisters (suggestive, but not diagnostic, for foot and mouth disease, for example), a validated, point-of-need detection device could be critical to border patrol agents,” she states. Currently, federal investigators are called to respond and collect samples, which are transported to the Foreign Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory on Plum Island, New York, a process that could take several days to get results back.
Dr. Trujillo gave live demonstrations of both devices to attendees at the showcase, which included numerous governmental and private organizations involved in preserving the security of the American food supply system and homeland security.
"My goal was to create awareness that we have a highly-important, science-based translational project funded by DHS," Trujillo explained. "A product that has the potential to save us an immense amount of money and loss of life in the event of a TAD event in North America".
May 19, 2016
CEEZAD Career Development Fellow Learns About Science and Engineering Policymaking at Workshop in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Izabela Ragan has a driving passion to work at a place that doesn’t fully exist yet: the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility (NBAF). This federal animal disease research facility is being built in Manhattan and is expected to be operational by 2023. As a veterinarian scientist and Ph.D. student in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University, Dr. Ragan’s passion is so strong she decided she needed to learn how policy decisions are made in Washington, D.C., so she applied for an opportunity to attend an annual workshop held April 17-20 called Catalyzing Advocacy in Science and Engineering (CASE), which is sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences.
Read More at College of Veterinary Medicine Lifelines.
May 12, 2016
Opportunity to Work with NBAF, Kansas State University Scientists Lures New York Company to Kansas
City and university officials have announced that Orion Integrated Biosciences, Larchmont, New York, has opened a new office in Manhattan to work more closely with Kansas State University scientists and capitalize on the future opening of the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility, or NBAF.
The announcement was made May 10 at the NBAF Summit, a two-day meeting to update livestock producers and the animal health industry on science and security related to the new laboratory.
Read More at K-State News and Communications.
January 26, 2016
DHS S&T Call for Proposals "Susceptibility of North American wildlife species to Foreign Animal Diseases" Open Broad Agency Announcement Number (OBAA) 14-003/Call 0013
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate Agriculture Defense Branch has released a call for proposals seeking information about the susceptibility of North American wildlife species to Foreign Animal Diseases (FADs) and zoonotic diseases deemed tier 2 and 3 by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to provide gap analyses and inform potential future projects.
Additional information is sought for surveillance methodologies, diagnostic sampling, testing, and disease countermeasures used in wildlife species. They are also seeking information regarding vector competence of North American arthropod species for High Consequence or Transboundary Foreign Animal Diseases and information on other diseases of wildlife with economic importance to agriculture or aquaculture.
Full Proposal Due Date: February 19, 2016, 2:00 PM EST
More information on this call for proposals can be found here.
For any questions, please contact:
firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Center of Excellence for Emerging and Zoonotic Animal Diseases
A Department of Homeland Security Science & Technology
Center of Excellence
Kansas State University
K224 Mosier Hall
1800 Denison Ave.
Manhattan, KS 66506