For more than half a century, West Nile virus was someone else’s problem.
The mosquito-borne pathogen was first isolated from a feverish human in 1937 in northern Uganda’s West Nile district. It then lay low for a decade before emerging in an actual epidemic in Israel in 1951. With several Egyptian outbreaks in the early ’50s, researchers started to see the disease infect non-humans, particularly crows and horses. Mosquitoes of the Culex genus appeared to be its chief transmitter, or vector.
By the time the virus hit the United States, in 1999, it had taken on a more sinister character. Where before it mostly struck … » More …
Last March, Gary Chastagner was driving around southwest Oregon scouting test plots for a study of madrone, the gnarly, reddish-brown tree found up and down the West Coast. A variety of diseases had been hitting the trees in recent years, and Chastagner, a plant pathologist in WSU’s Puyallup Research and Extension Center, was undertaking a study to see if some varieties might be more disease resistant than others.
Driving between Roseburg and Medford, he started seeing entire slopes of trees that looked decidedly disease prone.
“It just looked like someone went through with a blowtorch,” Chastagner recalls.
County extension agents and natural resource … » More …
Bill Davis, professor of veterinary microbiology and pathology at Washington State University, exhibited true vision in the 1970s, when he recognized the potential for veterinary science of monoclonal antibody technology.
Antibodies are proteins produced by cells of the immune system. They help neutralize pathogens and produce immunity. Most pathogens stimulate their hosts to produce a population of diverse antibodies. Monoclonal antibodies, on the other hand, are populations of identical antibodies and are created in the laboratory. A given monoclonal antibody might be specific for an individual cell type, its state of activation, the strain of a pathogen, such as the 0157:H7 component of the infamous … » More …
While Listeria monocytogenes accounts for only 1/100th of 1
percent of all food-borne illnesses in the United States, it's
responsible for a whopping 28 percent of annual deaths. Development of
a quick test for the pathogen promises to drastically reduce that
statistic. » More ...
As a veterinarian for the Navajo Nation, Dr. Scott Bender’s practice spans more than 18 million acres in the Four Corners region of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah.
His enormous workload includes treating everything from sheep, horses, cattle, goats, dogs, and cats to elk and cougars. Periodically, he even gets to clean the teeth of a 19-year-old bear at the Navajo Nation Zoo and Botanical Park, Window Rock, Arizona, the only tribal-run zoo in the United States.
“There are 250,000 people who live on the reservation and only four vets to cover them,” he says. “It can be a little daunting at times.”
What makes some strains of pathogenic microbes nastier than others? Why
do they emerge when and where they do? Are we more susceptible now than
in the past, and if so, why? At least partial answers to these
troubling questions may lie with snails and salamanders.