Kaitlyn Parra
Kaitlyn Parra
Kaitlyn Parra
Helios Scholar
School: Flagstaff High School
Hometown: Flagstaff, Arizona
Mentor: Bridget Barker, Ph.D.

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Valley Fever PAWS: Coccidioidomycosis in Canis lupus familiaris

Valley Fever PAWS (Prevention Awareness and Working for Solutions) is a research study that aims to understand contribution of three main factors that determine severe or asymptomatic coccidioidomycosis: the fungal genotype, host genotype, and environmental exposure. PAWS is an online survey that collects data on Canis familiaris (dogs), and will be useful in determining the host contribution to disease variation. Dog owners fill out the survey with information that will be useful in current and future studies. The information is then put in a database where the data is analyzed for correlations. Currently, we are assessing the effect of breed on susceptibility to infection and severe disease of Valley Fever. Out of 2,232 participants, the twenty most common breeds were determined, which allows us to define breeds that are more or less susceptible to Valley Fever. The average infection rate among canines is 30%. Using the data from the survey database, there were five breeds (Golden Retriever, Boxer, Yorkshire Terrier, Bichon Frise, and German Shorthaired Pointer) that were found to statistically more susceptible, and three breeds (Chihuahua, Miniature Poodle, and Greyhound) that were found to be significantly less susceptible to the disease. Currently, the breed of interest is Boxer. Boxers are one of the twenty most common breeds and have a statistically higher infection rate than the average infection rate. We contacted eighty-three Boxer owners, and received responses from forty-two. Among these, we have twenty-four that had Valley Fever and eighteen that are healthy. For owners that agreed to participate, we sent a saliva sample collection kit. Owners sent back the kits to TGen North, where the DNA was extracted from the sample. We have currently extracted twenty-eight samples. The next step for the PAWS project is to run SNP genotyping arrays on the DNA, which we will analyze for correlations between the canine genotype and susceptibility to the disease.