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Carolyn Hodo

Proliferative lesions associated with poxvirus in wild rodents in Texas

Pathologic lesions and prevalence of Trypanosoma cruzi in wild coyotes (Canis latrans) of Texas

Carolyn Hodo, a Texas A&M University PhD candidate in Veterinary Pathobiology, attended the 2016 American College of Veterinary Pathologists Annual Meeting in New Orleans, Louisiana, December 3-7, 2016. Two of her abstracts were accepted. She presented a poster on “Proliferative lesions associated with poxvirus in wild rodents in Texas” and gave an oral presentation entitled “Pathologic lesions and prevalence of Trypanosoma cruzi in wild coyotes (Canis latrans) of Texas.” Carolyn was mentored by Dr. Sarah Hamer, Assistant Professor in the department of Veterinary Integrative Biosciences, College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.

“I was especially excited to present the coyote work,” Carolyn said, “as it is a part of my dissertation. I am working to characterize the mammalian reservoirs of T. cruzi, the agent of Chagas disease, which is a zoonotic vector-borne disease of primarily humans and dogs. A number of wildlife species are known to harbor the parasite, but little is known about the course of infection in these species, or even whether they develop disease as a result, “she noted. “My research showed that coyotes do develop cardiac lesions similar to those seen in domestic dogs. I am board certified in veterinary pathology, but have not attended the ACVP meeting since transitioning to a full-time PhD student. This was a great opportunity to blend my interests in zoonotic vector-borne disease epidemiology with my training in pathology.”

“Thanks to the One Health travel award, I was able to travel to this conference to present my research and interact with others in my field,“ Carolyn concluded. “I received feedback and make connections which will lead to future collaborations. I also attended a session discussing a new program called the Global Health Pathology Network. Pathology has been under-recognized in global health or One Health, but plays a major role in managing disease in developing nations, where agriculture and wildlife tourism often form the cornerstone of the economy. Attending this meeting has further inspired me to blend my pathology knowledge with epidemiology to make advances in One Health research.”

“Not only are Carolyn’s data on coyote infection with Trypanosoma cruzi valuable from a wildlife health perspective, but also because we think that spatial data on wildlife infection can be useful for understanding the potential threat of Chagas disease to humans,” Dr. Hamer noted. “Also, coyotes are a natural or sylvatic model for domestic dogs, and we know many domestic dog populations across the southern US are impacted by Chagas disease. Carolyn has linked the severity of cardiac pathology to the genetic strain of T. cruzi that has infected the host, and it will be interesting to see if this relationship holds across diverse wildlife species.”