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Vet Gazette

Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine eNewsletter

MacVicar Scholar Award Lecture

April 25th, 2011

Can an invasive disease modify the dynamics of a native infection? Specifically, does bovine tuberculosis (BTB), modify the dynamics of a native infection, Rift Valley Fever (RVF), in African buffalo?

Dr. Brianna Beechler, a PhD student in the Jolles lab in Biomedical Sciences and 2010 recipient of the MacVicar Scholar Award, presented an update on her current research in Kruger National Park in South Africa. Data collected by Dr. Beechler’s team has shown that Rift Valley Fever infection is more common in BTB positive buffalo, but only in older buffalo. Bovine tuberculosis is an immunosuppressive infection; thus, Dr. Beechler’s hypothesis is that buffalo with a suppressed micro-parasite immune response due to BTB are more likely to become susceptible to Rift Valley Fever. The resulting potential increase in infection is not just a concern for buffalo. Many wild animals, livestock, and humans can contract Rift Valley Fever. Especially susceptible are pregnant ewes with resulting abortion rates as high as 90%.

The lecture is named for former OSU President Robert MacVicar and his wife, Clarice, who established the award in 1996 to support interdisciplinary research and education programs in animal health.

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