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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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3003 ADBF, WSU

P.O. BOX 646630

PULLMAN, WA  99164-6630




The research program of the Animal Disease Research Unit (ADRU) is to solve basic and applied problems concerning persistent infectious diseases of domestic animals, especially diseases that affect international trade. Current research responsibilities include scrapie of sheep (and the related spongiform encephalopathies including chronic wasting disease of mule deer and elk, and bovine spongiform encephalopathy), small ruminant lentiviruses (ovine progressive pneumonia virus and caprine arthritis encephalitis virus), malignant catarrhal fever virus (a gamma-herpesvirus of cattle, sheep and certain exotic ungulates), bovine and ovine anaplasmosis (a rickettsial infection of red blood cells), Listeria monocytogenes, a bacterium of cattle and other small ruminants which causes disease of the central nervous system and is a food safety concern and bovine and equine babesiosis (a tick-borne protozoan infection of cattle and horses). Integrated within our research mission is defining protective bovine and equine immune responses. The Unit’s research focus concerning these diseases is to solve problems related to domestic animal health and international trade issues. Our unit works closely with APHIS concerning research needs impacting trade issues. The ultimate goal is recommendations for management, and control.





Research Accomplishments


  • Provided APHIS with a preclinical diagnostic test for scrapie, a genetic method for control and knowledge concerning control of transmission through fetal.


  • Collaboratively discovered and published an enhanced method for third eyelid testing (sheep scrapie – Alverson and collaborators).


  • Concerning CWD, we’ve had a series of publications describing predisposing genotypes in elk, mule and white tailed deer.  Recently we’ve two publications, one describing the genetics of the white tailed deer which were depopulated from Edward’s Ranch in Nebraska and our discovery of a prion pseudogene within white tailed deer and mule deer.  This is important because it confuses research looking for resistant alleles.


  • Herrmann and collaborators published the first description of the OPP viruses found within the Dubois flock.


  • Anaplasmosis – We’ve completed genomic sequencing and annotation of the A. marginale genome. 


  • Glen Scoles, our vector biologist has two recent publications which are defining this area.  The first describes the endosymbionts within our tick population and the second describes vector competence for transmission of A. marginale among different regions of the U. S.


  • Demonstrated that nasal shedding is the major mode of MCFV transmission among sheep and that adolescent lambs represent the highest risk group for transmission.


  • Developed a BAC library consisting of the Babesia bovis genome.  Through this library and our collaboration with The Institute for Genomics Research we obtained 8X coverage of the B. bovis genome.


  • Microarray technology has been developed to provide a more informative and reproducible method of L. monocytogenes subtyping.  Most importantly this technology is currently being used for gene discovery experiments (Borucki et al., 2003; Call et al., 2003; Borucki et al, in review), gene knock out experiments, and to aid in molecular epidemiological studies of bovine listeriosis on regional farms (Borucki et al, in press; Borucki et al., in preparation).  An in vivo model for assessing strain virulence has been developed (Kim et al., 2004), and several in vitro models are in various stages of development (Borucki et al., 2003). Since the beginning of 2003, a total of eleven publications describing this work have been published or are currently in press. 

Last Modified: 10/23/2007