In collaboration with the Media Studies program at Auburn University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a laboratory training video is being developed to provide virtual training opportunities around the world. The gold standard method for understanding malaria transmission is a protein based assay called the csELISA which can detect infective proteins from malaria parasites (Plasmodium spp.) in mosquitoes. This gives a good idea of transmission risk and potential in a region and is very important for malaria surveillance. Typically in person laboratory visits and trainings are used to build capacity to run these assays, but with COVID-19 travel restrictions this is not currently possible.
To overcome this challenge, CDC and Auburn (School of Forestry and Wildlife Studies and the Media Studies Department) are developing a professional training video to share widely. The filming approach and script was developed with undergraduate research fellow, Haley Stephens, who became proficient in the method for her research and who is featured in the film!
In this paper we discuss patterns of ectoparasitism in gray mouse lemurs in northwestern Madagascar. We describe infestation patterns of eight ectoparasites and in doing so we found five previously undescribed ectoparasite species! Patterns of louse infestation in this species are similar to what we see in other mouse lemur species with males harboring more lice than females and peaks in louse infestation occurring around the seasonal mating period. Perhaps because this is when males are exchanging lice as we previously found in brown mouse lemurs (Microcebus rufus)
In this study first authored by former undergraduate research fellow, Micaela Finney and former grad student, Ben McKenzie and led by Menja Rabaovola we describe feeding behaviors and malaria parasite infection rates in malaria mosquitoes in Madagascar. This paper shows that malaria mosquitoes in southeastern Madagascar largely (over 90%!) feed on livestock and contain cattle or swine bloodmeal. Could veterinary treatment complement malaria control? There is evidence that common veterinary dewormers (such as ivermectin) make blood toxic to mosquitoes. This means that treating livestock with dewormers could potentially help with mosquito control! Mosquitoes were also tested for the presence of human malaria parasites and two types were found, including one that is rarely reported in human malaria cases (Plasmodium vivax) but the infective stage was VERY common in mosquitoes!
In a unique document produced by the United Nations Environment Programme a guideline for preventing the next pandemic through environmental mitigation strategies was produced. This document outlines specific One Health steps that can be taken to mitigate the risk of spillover of zoonotic diseases that have epidemic/pandemic potential.
In this document, the coevolution effect, a hypothesis we developed in collaboration with the Schwartz and Oaks labs at Auburn University, was mentioned as a potential explanation of the underlying mechanisms describing how pathogens from wild animals emerge into human populations leading to epidemics.