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Research Project: Ecology of Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV) in North America

Location: Foreign Animal Disease Research

2019 Annual Report


Objectives
1. Ascertain the viral ecology of disease and factors mediating the emergence of VSV, including the characterizing epidemiological factors associated with the maintenance of disease in endemic versus non-endemic settings (ABADRU) and (FADRU), determining the environmental conditions that influence vector dominance in endemic versus non-endemic settings, and identifying environmental-vector interactions responsible for the emergence of viral infections in new geographical locations. 1.A. Characterize epidemiological, biotic and abiotic factors associated with the emergence and transmission of VSV in endemic versus non-endemic settings. 2. Develop intervention strategies to minimize the impact of VSV disease outbreaks. 2.A. Develop means to detect and characterize emergent VSV strains and use these data to generate models that predict future outbreaks. 2.B. Identify vector transmission control strategies based on our understanding of vector-host interactions. 3. Ascertain the viral ecology of disease and factors mediating the emergence of VSV, including factors associated with the maintenance of disease, determining the environmental conditions that influence vector dominance in endemic versus non-endemic settings, and identifying environmental-vector interactions responsible for the emergence of viral infections in new geographical locations. 4. Establish research program on Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Fever (CCHF) and Nipah Virus Disease (NiVD), including development of detection and diagnostic in vectors and hosts as well as studying mechanisms of inter-species transmission.


Approach
1. A comprehensive analysis of VS outbreaks occurring in the U.S. from 2004-2016 will be conducted to determine the relationship between the geographical location of premises reporting VS outbreaks and the spatial and temporal variability in a large suit of ecological variables. Multiple data streams involving disease occurrence and ecological conditions will be obtained from multiple sources and harmonized for integration and analysis. These data sources include; a) outbreak occurrence data inclusive of geo-location, host species, number of animals affected and onset date, b) ecological data analysis c) biotic and abiotic variables inclusive of animal density, hydrological features and streams, elevation and surface water properties, air temperature and precipitation, vegetation ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscilation) data, soil properties and long term trends in environmental variables. . These data will be harmonized and univariate and multivariate statistical analysis will be conducted to determine the best set of explanatory variables for temporal and spatial patterns. These analyses will be used to identify ecological variables associated with VS disease occupancy and spread in the western U.S. and to develop predictive models for disease spread. 2. The characterization of VSV transmission in endemic vs non-endemic settings will be conducted in collaboration with Mexico’s SENASICA-EADC laboratory to conduct genomic sequencing and phylogeographic characterization of viral strains collected through VS surveillance activities in Mexico and to identify the ecological and environmental factors associated with the occurrence of VSV in Mexico. A collaboration with USDA-APHIS will established to determine the phylogeopraphic characteristics of VSV strains causing outbreaks in the U.S. This information will be used to create predictive models for VSV occurrence. 3. A comprehensive analysis of VS outbreaks occurring in the U.S. will be conducted to determine the relationship between geographical location of premises reporting VS outbreaks and spatial and temporal variability in a large suit of ecological variables. Ecology studies in the sw US will be expanded to include endemic areas in Mexico and environmental-vector interactions responsible for the emergence of viral infections in new geographical locations. These data will be harmonized and statistical analysis will be conducted to determine the best set of explanatory variables for temporal and spatial patterns. These analyses will be used to identify ecological variables associated with VS disease emergence, re-emergence and spread in the western U.S. and to develop predictive models for disease spread. 4. A new research program will be started at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on CCHF and NiVD. Research scientists will be embedded within existing research programs to develop expertise working in biosafety level 4 facility, develop necessary reagents and methodologies for studying virus host interaction in livestock species. Initial work will focus on molecular detection tools, reverse genetics systems, immunological reagents for studies in small animal models.


Progress Report
During 2019, two postdoctoral fellows were recruited to work on the project; one to fill the Grand-Challenge research associate award and one recruited at Kansas State University as part of NBAF workforce development funding obtained in FY18. A Grand-Challenge research coordination meeting was held in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where the status of the different project components were evaluated, manuscript status was reviewed, and research plans were coordinated and adjusted. Collaborators from the Jornada Range Station were able to recruit a research associate with Grand-challenge research associate award funds. Two manuscripts were accepted for publication: Complete genome sequences of two vesicular stomatitis New Jersey viruses representing the epidemic U.S. 2012 and its closest endemic relative from southern Mexico. Genome Announcements. https://doi.org/10.1128/genomeA.00049-18, and Increased virulence of an epidemic strain of vesicular stomatitis virus is associated with interference of the innate response in pigs. Frontiers in Microbiology. 9:1891. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2018.01891. Genomic sequencing of over 200 viral strains from outbreaks in the United States and Mexico from 2004-2006 and 2012-2016 have been completed using next generation sequencing techniques and data has been analyzed. Two manuscripts are in final stages of preparation. On the arthropod research aspects, progress continues in insect collection around hotspots of Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV) transmission in Colorado to determine the type of vectors associated to those ecological zones. Studies on laboratory infections of midges (culicoides) is ongoing. Eventually this information will be useful in devising VS control strategies.


Accomplishments


Review Publications
Velazquez-Salinas, L., Pauszek, S.J., Barrera, J., Clark, B., Borca, M.V., Verdugo-Rodriguez, A., Arzt, J., Rodriguez, L.L. 2019. Validation of a site-specific recombination cloning technique for the rapid development of an infectious cDNA clone of a virulent field strain of vesicular stomatitis New Jersey virus. Journal of Virological Methods. Volume 265, March 2019, Pages 113-116. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jviromet.2019.01.003.
Velazquez-Salinas, L., Pauszek, S.J., Stenfeldt, C., O'Hearn, E.S., Pacheco, J.M., Borca, M.V., Verdugo-Rodriguez, A., Arzt, J., Rodriguez, L.L. 2018. Increased virulence of an epidemic strain of vesicular stomatitis virus is associated with interference of the innate response in pigs. Frontiers in Microbiology. 9:1891. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2018.01891.
Farooq, U., Ahmed, Z., Naeem, K., Bertram, M., Brito, B., Stenfeldt, C., Pauszek, S.J., Larocco, M.A., Arzt, J., Rodriguez, L.L. 2018. Characterization of naturally occurring, new and persistent subclinical foot-and-mouth disease virus infection in vaccinated Asian buffalo in Islamabad Capital Territory, Pakistan. Veterinary Research. https://doi.org/10.1111/tbed.12963.
Peters, D.C., Burruss, N., Rodriguez, L.L., McVey, D.S., Elias, E.H., Pelzel-McCluskey, A.M., Derner, J.D., Schrader, T.S., Yao, J., Pauszek, S.J., Lombard, J., Archer, S.R., Bestelmeyer, B.T., Browning, D.M., Brungard, C., Hatfield, J.L., Hanan, N.P., Herrick, J.E., Okin, G.S., Sala, O.E., Savoy, H., Vivoni, E.R. 2018. An integrated view of complex landscapes: A big data-model integration approach to transdisciplinary science. Bioscience. 68:653-669. https://doi.org/10.1093/biosci/biy069.
Velazquez-Salinas, L., Pauszek, S.J., Verdugo-Rodriguez, A., Rodriguez, L.L. 2018. Complete genome sequences of two vesicular stomatitis New Jersey viruses representing the epidemic U.S. 2012 and its closest endemic relative from southern Mexico. Genome Announcements. https://doi.org/10.1128/genomeA.00049-18.