In November, we wrapped up the installation of a small but exciting laboratory for domestic samples obtained from the areas in and around Guadalajara, in the Jalisco district of Mexico. A little different than the previous efforts at field laboratories by FPI (which is actually a thing now!), this laboratory is miniature but extremely focused. The company that owns it does a large amount of screening for disease vectors for domestic animals and some human samples, but they have never ventured into the world of DNA testing.
We were tasked with taking a small portable setup into a temporary lab space to run the first tests for Leptospira, Babesia and Ehrlichia on some known positive samples. In these circumstances, a variety of things could go wrong – the primers could be uncooperative, the extraction procedure could yield low amounts of DNA, or the positives themselves could be finicky or undependable. But to our utter delight, we were able to successfully get positives to amplify for leptospira and babesia infected animals. The test was simple – a quick extraction, PCR and gel electrophoresis, but the sheer number of doors that opens for the area is by no means unremarkable.
Future foci include making the setup and tests entirely portable, so vets can take it with them to sample animals directly in the field during field visits. Real-time results can completely streamline the process for regulating outbreaks of diseases in domestic animals in the area.
We are also helping them choose more disease-causing agents to test for in the area, and helping them officially launch the laboratory.
The possibilities, as always, are endless.
And we didn’t even have to sequence any DNA!
When they are ready to launch officially, I’ll be happy to rave a little more about them.
Terms of Note:
Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that affects humans and animals. It is caused by bacteria of the genus Leptospira. In humans, it can cause a wide range of symptoms, some of which may be mistaken for other diseases. Some infected persons, however, may have no symptoms at all. Without treatment, Leptospirosis can lead to kidney damage, meningitis (inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord), liver failure, respiratory distress, and even death. Source: CDC
Babesiosis is a malaria-like parasitic disease caused by infection with Babesia, a type of Apicomplexa. Human babesiosis transmission via tick bite is most common in the Northeastern and Midwestern United States and parts of Europe, and sporadic throughout the rest of the world. It occurs in warm weather. People can get infected with Babesia parasites by the bite of an infected tick, by getting a blood transfusion from an infected donor of blood products, or by congenital transmission (an infected mother to her baby). Source: Wikipedia
Ehrlichia is a genus of rickettsiales bacteria that is transmitted to vertebrates by ticks. These bacteria cause the Ehrlichiosis infection, which is considered zoonotic, because the main reservoirs for the disease are animals. Source: Wikipedia