Laura Coleman
Laura Coleman
Laura Coleman
Helios Scholar
School: Northern Arizona University
Hometown: Edmonds, Washington
Mentor: Bridget Barker, Ph.D.
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Coccidioidomycosis in canines

Coccidioidomycosis, commonly known as valley fever, is a disease caused by the fungi Coccidioides spp. It is a respiratory disease affecting an estimated 150,000 human individuals each year. Its symptoms are highly variable in mammals, particularly canines; there is no cure, vaccine, accurate diagnosis or effective treatment. The purpose of this study is to determine if canines possess or a lack a gene, or a specific gene variant, which causes them to be more susceptible to the disease or experience more variable symptoms. Using the Valley Fever PAWS (Prevention Awareness and Working for Solutions) survey developed by Dr. Bridget Barker, as well as the Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center’s vet database (IDEXX Vet Connect), we compiled data from 86 coyotes (Canis latrans) 37 Mexican grey wolves (Canis lupus) and 679 domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) of varying breeds.  Then, summary statistics and chi-square analyses were completed to determine if there was a significant difference between species and/or breeds, as well as which breeds or species showed significant resistance or susceptibility to the disease. Our results to date indicate that there is a significant difference in the rate of infection between coyotes and wolves, as well as coyotes and domestic dogs. However there was not a significant difference between wolves and domestic dogs. It was also found that terriers, beagles, and labrador retrievers appear to be affected at a higher ratio than expected (expected being 3:7). Conversely, German shepherds, cocker spaniels, and shih tzus have a lower than expected ratio of infection.  Future directions are to gather DNA samples from surveyed animals using Genotech Permformagene swabs. Then, to genotype the dogs using Illumina CanineHD whole genome BeadChip genotyping arrays to understand specific host genes that may determine disease outcome.