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Global Health News


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Blocking viruses’ exit strategy

The Marburg virus, a relative of the Ebola virus, causes a serious, often-fatal hemorrhagic fever. Transmitted by the African fruit bat and by direct human-to-human contact, Marburg virus disease currently has no approved vaccine or antivirals to prevent or treat it.

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From animals to people and back again

Last month, it was gorillas. Before that, it was mink. And earlier still, tigers and lions. All of these species have been confirmed to have had a diagnosis of COVID-19, infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

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Gut cells sound the alarm when parasites invade

To effectively combat an infection, the body first has to sense it’s been invaded, and then the affected tissue must send signals to corral resources to fight the intruder.

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Parasitic worms offer ‘the missing link’ on the dual nature of a key immune regulator

De’Broski Herbert has a philosophy that’s guided his career researching helminths, or parasitic worms, and their interaction with their hosts’ immune systems: “Follow the worm.”

 

Penn Vet's Sherrill Davison reminds poultry owners to collect eggs often. Eggs that sit for too long in the nest may have an increased risk of infection.

Poultry in a pandemic: Getting the facts on keeping backyard flocks

With the COVID-19 pandemic wearing on, many Americans are turning to raising poultry to fill their extra time at home. While raising backyard birds is a great idea – whether for food, for educational purposes, or as a hobby – the influx of new flocks has put humans, as well as the birds they care for, at risk of Salmonella sickness.

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Seven Penn Vet Researchers Receive COVID-19 Pilot Awards

Seven researchers from the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn Vet) have been selected to receive distinctive COVID-19 Pilot Awards from the Penn Vet COVID Research Innovation Fund. The Fund, provided with critical start-up support through a generous gift from Vernon and Shirley Hill, will bolster Penn Vet’s rapidly expanding research and response program to fight the novel coronavirus. 

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Coming together to solve the many scientific mysteries of COVID-19

As the rumblings of a pandemic began to be felt at the beginning of the year, scientists at Penn started work to develop a vaccine and assess possible treatments. But the scope of COVID-19 studies at the University goes much broader. Scientists whose typical work finds them investigating autoimmune disease, influenza, HIV/AIDS, Ebola, cancer, hemophilia, and more, are now applying their deep understanding of biology to confront a novel threat.

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Penn Vet Launches COVID-19 Canine Scent Detection Study

A pilot training program utilizing scent detection dogs to discriminate between samples from COVID-19 positive and COVID-19 negative patients is the focus of a new research initiative at Penn Vet.

Household Food Insecurity and the COVID-19 Pandemic

How does a Pandemic impact our relationship with food? A new Penn survey seeks insights

A newly launched internet survey led by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania looks to explore the multidimensional impact that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has had on our collective relationship with food.

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A roadblock for disease-causing parasites

The threadlike parasite Dirofilaria immitis causes the debilitating canine heartworm disease. A related parasite, Brugia malayi, infects humans and is one of the parasites responsible for lymphatic filariasis, a neglected disease that affects 120 million and can give rise to elephantiasis, characterized by disfiguring and painful swollen limbs.

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What we do and don’t know about the novel coronavirus

Until a month ago, it’s possible to never have heard of coronavirus, despite the fact that science has known about this family of seven viruses since the 1960s. Four are common, causing mild or moderate respiratory symptoms like a runny nose and sore throat, all of which dissipate quickly. 

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With a protein ‘delivery,’ parasite can suppress its host’s immune response

Toxoplasma gondii is best known as the parasite that may lurk in a cat’s litter box. Nearly a third of the world’s population is believed to live with a chronic Toxoplasma infection. It’s of greatest concern, however, to people with suppressed immune systems and to pregnant women, who can pass the infection to their fetuses.

Dr. Zhengxia Dou, Penn Vet, Agricultural Systems

Amazing Cows Hold Promise in Pioneering Sustainable Food Systems of the Future

In today’s climate change narrative, animal-based agriculture often endures criticism for its alleged contributions to the global problem. With some naysayers ranking the industry second only to the population explosion as a root contributor to global warming and other weather-related devastation, the concern for how food is – and can be – produced has become even more pressing.

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Predicting treatment outcome for leishmaniasis

For patients with cutaneous leishmaniasis, a skin infection transmitted by a sand fly that can lead to painful and disfiguring ulcers, treatment can be grueling. The first-line therapy offered to many requires daily infusions of the metalloid pentavalent antimony for three weeks, and half of patients don’t respond to just one round of therapy. Some fail two or even three courses. And the side effects of therapy can range from mere irritation to far more serious conditions.

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Keeping parasites from sticking to mosquito guts could block disease transmission

A group of microorganisms known as kinetoplastids includes the parasites that cause devastating diseases such as African sleeping sickness, Chagas disease, and leishmaniasis. They share an ability to adhere to the insides of their insect hosts, using a specialized protein structure. But what if scientists could prevent the parasite from adhering? Would the parasites pass right through the vectors, unable to be passed on to a human?

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Novel model for studying intestinal parasite could advance vaccine development

The intestinal parasite Cryptosporidium, which causes a diarrheal disease, is very good at infecting humans. It’s the leading cause of waterborne disease from recreational waters in the United States. Globally, it’s a serious illness that can stunt the growth of, or even kill, infants and young children. And people with compromised immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS, are also highly susceptible. There is no vaccine and no effective treatment.

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Making headway against a killer virus

Ebola just isn’t going away. Following the major 2014 outbreak in West Africa, the deadly infection came back with a vengeance last year in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where it has claimed nearly 550 lives to date.

The impact has been felt closer to home as well.

Swine Production Facilities at New Bolton Center

Penn Vet Swine Group Discusses Global Challenges Arising from China’s African Swine Fever Outbreak

In China, a country that is home to more than half of the world’s swine population, the spread of deadly infectious disease - such as the current African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreak - can carry tremendous implications for food supply and pricing across the globe.

Briana Wilson V'19, helps to establish a commercial goat dairy operation in Gambia.

Vet students’ goat dairy aims to fill a nutrition gap in Gambia

Briana Wilson, a third-year student in the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine, plans to pursue a career as a small-animal vet, mainly caring for cats and dogs. But this summer, she’s getting a trial-by-fire education in goat husbandry, project management, and negotiating the challenges of helping launch a business in a relatively remote region of a developing nation.

James Ferrara, a third-year student in Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine.

Penn One Health goes abroad

James Ferrara, a third-year student in Penn’s School of Veterinary Medicine, grew up in Montvale, N.J., with his family’s Labrador retriever, Cody. When Ferrara was 10 years old, Cody, also 10, suffered from arthritis and had to be put down. Ferrara says that this childhood experience encouraged his interest in veterinary medicine. While he hoped to one day minimize animal suffering, he later learned that animals and humans have a global impact on each other’s health.