Skip to main content
ARS Home » Research » Research Project #443571

Research Project: Development of Agriculture Model Capabilities for Emerging Disease Threats

Location: Zoonotic and Emerging Disease Research

Project Number: 3022-32000-021-008-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Feb 13, 2023
End Date: Feb 12, 2025

The primary objective of this work will be to establish capabilities for animals studies with livestock species. While NBAF facilities are not open NBAF scientists will partner with Cooperator researchers to gain expertise in performing animal challenges studies with infectious agents of potential significant consequence as well as to develop and evaluate protocols for the safe handling of animals in containment. Work will be performed in the BSL-3 laboratories and focus on pathogens that fall under the Zoonotic and Emerging Disease mission space. Studies will be prioritized to address unmet public health needs or answer questions of significant concern for the NBAF and USDA missions.

Currently, there has been limited work performed to determine the potential risk of transmission of monkeypox (MPOX) virus to animals including domestic (agricultural, companion), peri-domestic animals (e.g. rodents), and wildlife. Current epidemiologic data has shown the spread of MPOX cases, including from people to domestic animals. As the distribution of the virus continues to spread, so does the potential that the virus may become endemic and/or establish new ecological footholds within the U.S. If this were to happen, elimination of the disease from the U.S. would become a much larger challenge. In addition, as the percent of the population previously vaccinated for smallpox in endemic countries wanes, we must reexamine the distribution of MPOX in these countries with the lens of identifying potential sources for zoonotic spillover and spillback. Priority for challenge/susceptibility studies will be domestic pigs, calves, and rodents. Susceptibility of wild pigs and squirrels will also be evaluated pending funding and space. Study designs will be finalized with input requested from with CDC and other US Government partners. To assess potential risks, the susceptibility of various species will be assessed in partnership with the Cooperator. Proposed outcomes will include morbidity, mortality, seroconversion, viral replication, viral shedding, and changes in clinical laboratory values. Partners at other universities will support host and viral transcriptomic work. These experiments will directly support LOE7, Objective 3 (3.1 – 3.4) of USG working groups. The models developed will be translated to the BSL4 for work with Nipah and CCHF in relevant species.