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Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine eNewsletter

French Exchange Student Investigating Raptor Disease

August 27th, 2014

SophieThe emerging interdisciplinary field of zoonotic disease is commonly focused on the transmission of infectious disease from animals to humans. Sophie Jouffrey is working this summer on research that investigates the presence of zoonotic pathogens in wildlife, who may transfer those bacteria to farm animals, who in turn, may infect the humans who handle them.

Jouffroy, a veterinary student from Burgundy, France, is working at OSU College of Veterinary Medicine on a summer exchange program funded by the Department of Biomedical Sciences. She is partnering with Oregon wildlife rehabilitation centers to survey the presence of pathogens in raptors. “I am analyzing samples from eagles, owls, and hawks,” she says. “I am working with rehab centers around Oregon; they are helping me collect samples.”

Jouffroy is focusing on two pathogens: Chlamydia psittaci and Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). “To look for MRSA, I use several media to isolate and grow bacteria from the bird’s beak.  I then use several methods (GRAM staining, coagulase test…) to identify the bacteria,” she says. “For Chlamydia psittaci, I work with dry swabs from the beak area. I purify the DNA on the swabs with a DNA purification kit and then do a Polymerase Chain Reaction to look for Chlamydia DNA.”

So far, Jouffroy has collected nearly 30 samples of each pathogen. “I’m just starting to analyze my samples now,” she says. “Dr. Rockey and the people in his lab have helped me with the technical aspects,” she says.

Jouffroy grew up in beef cattle country and is very interested in working with farmers. “I’m also interested in studying infectious diseases,” she says. “I chose this summer project because I was curious about raptors, and I like investigating the interaction between wildlife and farm animals. I’m also interested in the transference of diseases from one to the other.”

This fall, Jouffroy will begin her third year of a five-year veterinary program at the National Veterinary College of Toulouse. “Our undergrad, the equivalent of your undergrad, is two years of intense scientific courses,” she says. “Then we take a competitive exam to get into vet school.”

Veterinary colleges in France are separate from the rest of the university. “OSU is part of a big university campus. In France, I live on the veterinary campus and it is only a vet school” she says. “On an everyday basis, we only see veterinary people. I think it is nice to see other people [here] and have that interaction.”

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