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Research Project: Vesicular Stomatitis as a Model for a Predictive Disease Ecology

Location: Foreign Arthropod Borne Animal Disease Research

Project Number: 3022-32000-062-004-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Aug 1, 2019
End Date: Jul 31, 2024

This cooperative research agreement establishes a new collaboration with experts at NMSU who bring to the project new expertise in viral disease ecology. The project will leverage and enhance ongoing Grand Challenge project in collaboration with USDA ARS Jornada Experimental Range. Specific Objectives: 1. Determine the relative roles of environmental factors, vector biology and virus phylogeny on the patterns of focal endemism and large-scale spread of epidemic Vesicular Stomatitis Virus (VSV) strains. 2. Develop parameters toward an early warning system for VS in Mexico that will assist USDA-APHIS and livestock owners in preparing for VS outbreaks in the U.S. 3. Determine if the information learned from VSV ecology and predictive models can be applied toward predicting ecological drivers of other arboviral diseases. AMENDMENT 01: 4. Assess potential role of target wildlife species within the VSV incursion corridor to serve as reservoir and amplifying hosts of VSV. 5. Monitor target vectors along the VSV incursion corridor for infection with VSV and use this information to refine predictions of the timing and path of VSV emergence from Mexico into the U.S.

1. A collaboration will be established with Mexico's Exotic Animal Disease Commission (EADC) Mexico collaborators to carry out surveillance, field sampling and data collection regarding VSV in endemic and non-endemic regions. 2. Existing on-line data on the environment, vectors, and hosts from endemic regions within Mexico and the US will be mined and synthesized for use in building models. 3. Selected field samples, such as insects, sera and virus from Mexico will be sent to ARS laboratories at PIADC or ABDRU for further study. 4. Environmental, field and laboratory data will be integrated and used to build disease ecology predictive models, such as early warning disease model. AMENDMENT 01: 5. Vector insects collected in the US will be genetically barcoded and screened for VSV infection. AMENDMENT II:To date we have acquired from our collaborators at SENASICA a long-term dataset on all reported VSV cases over the last thirty years and we using this data, along with remotely sensed data on climate, land cover/land use, and distribution of domestic animals to determine key variables that predict the distribution of VSV within its endemic range. This study is nearing completion and manuscript preparation is in progress.However, the COVID-19 pandemic and associated restrictions to laboratory access, bans to domestic and international travel, and SARS-COV-2 exposures and attendant isolation as well as symptomatic infection of several project personnel severely disrupted our plan of work. The COVID-19 pandemic also hit our collaborators in Chiapas Mexico extremely hard, and the delayed rollout of vaccines in this region resulted in widespread infection throughout the state and among our research partners. therfore we are requesting an extension of our project period through July 31, 2024.