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Kansas City, MO, United States

Blackburn J.K.,University of Florida | Hadfield T.L.,MRI Global | Curtis A.J.,Kent State University | Hugh-Jones M.E.,Louisiana State University
Annals of the Association of American Geographers | Year: 2014

White-tailed deer, Odocoileus virginianus, anthrax epizootics have been frequently documented in Texas over the last two decades. Once outbreaks begin, there is evidence for the potential role of hematophagous flies as vectors for the disease. Hypotheses on the role of biting flies in the transmission of anthrax date back more than a century. Both laboratory experiments and field studies have provided evidence of a biting fly transmission pathway. In particular, several studies have implicated biting flies during severe wildlife outbreaks in North America. Despite these implications, there is a lack of spatial analysis relating flies and anthrax. Here we report on the spatial patterns of anthrax in white-tailed deer on a well-studied ranch with a documented anthrax history. These patterns were evaluated against the spatiotemporal patterns of biting flies during the anthrax risk period. Unbaited fly traps were used to collect flies across the study ranch from June through August 2005. Kernel density analysis confirmed biting fly hotspots concentrated in the areas with highest densities of deer carcasses. The average nearest neighbor index confirmed that deer carcasses were spatially clustered and density estimates suggest that these are in proximity to areas supporting high fly populations. Dual kernel density analysis of carcasses and deer population identified a large dry riverine habitat as a high anthrax risk. Fly catch rates across the period identified a similar pattern to the anthrax risk surface. The high overlap between areas of sustained high fly catch rates and anthrax cases does suggest a relationship warranting future research. © 2014 © 2014 by Association of American Geographers.

Osman A.M.G.,University of Mississippi | Abourashed E.A.,Chicago State University | Slade D.,MRI Global | Ahmed S.A.,Suez Canal University | And 8 more authors.
Medicinal Chemistry Research | Year: 2015

Ferutinin (1), the major constituent of Ferula hermonis and other Ferula species, is a sesquiterpene ester with remarkable estrogenic activity, beside other valuable medicinal properties. To investigate the influence of chemical modification of the ferutinin structure on its estrogenic effect and binding affinity toward the cannabinoid CB1 and CB2 receptors, twelve derivatives of 1 were prepared and evaluated in vitro, together with the parent compound, for the respective bioactivities, based on the recent evidence for estrogen-endocannabinoid interaction. Nine of the prepared derivatives (3-11) are new semisynthetic esters of 1. The parent compound ferutinin (1) exhibited the highest level of estrogenic activity (EC50 0.3 μM and a percent maximal 17β-estradiol response of 90 % at 1 μM). Compound 6 was found to be a selective agonist for CB2 receptor (EC50 0.051 μM, Ki 0.025 μM), with much less affinity for CB1 receptor (EC50 97 μM, Ki 48.5 μM). Compound 8 was a selective agonist for CB1 (EC50 62, Ki 0.031 μM) with no affinity toward CB2. © 2015 Springer Science+Business Media.

Blackburn J.K.,University of Florida | Odugbo M.O.,National Veterinary Research Institute | Van Ert M.,University of Florida | O'Shea B.,MRI Global | And 5 more authors.
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases | Year: 2015

Zoonoses, diseases affecting both humans and animals, can exert tremendous pressures on human and veterinary health systems, particularly in resource limited countries. Anthrax is one such zoonosis of concern and is a disease requiring greater public health attention in Nigeria. Here we describe the genetic diversity of Bacillus anthracis in Nigeria and compare it to Chad, Cameroon and a broader global dataset based on the multiple locus variable number tandem repeat (MLVA-25) genetic typing system. Nigerian B. anthracis isolates had identical MLVA genotypes and could only be resolved by measuring highly mutable single nucleotide repeats (SNRs). The Nigerian MLVA genotype was identical or highly genetically similar to those in the neighboring countries, confirming the strains belong to this unique West African lineage. Interestingly, sequence data from a Nigerian isolate shares the anthrose deficient genotypes previously described for strains in this region, which may be associated with vaccine evasion. Strains in this study were isolated over six decades, indicating a high level of temporal strain stability regionally. Ecological niche models were used to predict the geographic distribution of the pathogen for all three countries. We describe a west-east habitat corridor through northern Nigeria extending into Chad and Cameroon. Ecological niche models and genetic results show B. anthracis to be ecologically established in Nigeria. These findings expand our understanding of the global B. anthracis population structure and can guide regional anthrax surveillance and control planning. © 2015 Blackburn et al.

Madsen C.,George Mason University | Hooper I.,George Mason University | Lundberg L.,George Mason University | Shafagati N.,George Mason University | And 10 more authors.
Antiviral Research | Year: 2014

Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) is classified as a Category B Select Agent and potential bioterror weapon for its severe disease course in humans and equines and its potential for aerosol transmission. There are no current FDA licensed vaccines or specific therapies against VEEV, making identification of potential therapeutic targets a priority. With this aim, our research focuses on the interactions of VEEV with host microRNA (miRNA) machinery. miRNAs are small non-coding RNAs that act as master regulators of gene expression by downregulating or degrading messenger RNA, thus suppressing production of the resultant proteins. Recent publications implicate miRNA interactions in the pathogenesis of various viral diseases. To test the importance of miRNA processing for VEEV replication, cells deficient in Ago2, an important component of the RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC), and cells treated with known Ago2 inhibitors, notably acriflavine (ACF), were utilized. Both conditions caused decreased viral replication and capsid expression. ACF treatment promoted increased survival of neuronal cells over a non-treated, infected control and reduced viral titers of fully virulent VEEV as well as Eastern and Western Equine Encephalitis Viruses and West Nile Virus, but not Vesicular Stomatitis Virus. ACF treatment of VEEV TC-83 infected mice resulted in increased in vivo survival, but did not affect survival or viral loads when mice were challenged with fully virulent VEEV TrD. These results suggest that inhibition of Ago2 results in decreased replication of encephalitic alphaviruses in vitro and this pathway may be an avenue to explore for future therapeutic development. © 2014 Elsevier B.V.

Torbic D.,MRI Global | Campbell J.,Battelle | Amjadi R.,s Turner Fairbank Highway Research Center
Public Roads | Year: 2015

The U.S. Department of Transportation launched the Rural Safety Initiative in 2008 as a comprehensive way to help State and local leaders raise awareness of highway safety issues and implement solutions in rural areas more quickly. As part of this initiative, the Federal Highway Administration launched the Rural Safety Innovation Program in February 2008 as a onetime opportunity for rural communities to compete for project funding to address safety problems. The program encouraged rural communities to develop creative, locally crafted solutions to their roadway safety problems, document their efforts and outcomes, and share the results with other communities across the country. The Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department, for example, installed cable median barriers on various rural sections of several interstate highways to reduce the number and severity of crashes related to crossing over the median. The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) received funding through the Rural Safety Innovation Program to implement two types of safety improvements along rural State highways. The first was installation of centerline rumble strips. The second was restoration of a clear zone, which included removing roadside objects, regrading side slopes, and installing cable barriers along about 5 miles (8 kilometers) of roadway. In 2005, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) began its Smooth Roads Initiative, which included improvements to many thousands of miles of the State's most heavily traveled roadways. To help manage the many construction projects, MoDOT used 40 portable changeable message signs to share information with motorists traveling along three rural highways, including rural interstates.

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