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Profiles Fall 2015/Winter 2016 : Page 22

TEACHING XI “CASSIE” GUO: F understanding the changing ecology of bird flu rom Lanzhou, China, Xi “Cassie” Guo has had firsthand experience with influenza A virus (IAV) in Asia, where this group of viruses is thought to have origintated. Today, as a fourth-year PhD student in comparative and molecular biosciences, Guo is helping to determine why spring outbreaks of IAV are becoming more common in Minnesota turkeys. “Avian influenza is a socioeconomic problem in China; it is not just a problem with agriculture,” says Guo, who received her bachelor’s degree in veterinary medicine from China Agricultural University in Beijing. “Live bird markets in China gave rise to the emergence of highly pathogenic avian influenza.” Guo’s interest in studying influenza viruses led her to the CVM, where her adviser, Dr. Carol Cardona, Pomeroy Chair in Avian Health, has been researching the spread of these emerging viruses in Midwest poultry operations for years. The first spring introduction of IAV in Minnesota occurred in 1982. For the next 25 years, all cases of IAV in turkeys were introduced in the fall, notes Guo. In all but two years since 2007, however, spring introductions of IAV have occurred. This change in seasonality led to Guo’s research project, which is exploring the changing ecology of IAV in turkeys. Specifically, Guo is investigating three factors that potentially could play a role in spring introductions of IAV in turkeys. First, she is analyzing data to discover whether climate change drives spring introductions. Second, she is deciphering responses obtained from a 2014 survey of Minnesota turkey farms that experienced spring introductions of low-pathogenic avian influenza to determine whether human activities and biosecurity practices have influenced the growing number of spring introductions. And third, Guo is testing droppings from wild birds that were collected in the spring and summer of 2015 to see if they are positive for IAV. Dr. Xi (Cassie) Guo works in her lab in the Veterinary Science building. Advised by Dr. Carol Cardona, Pomeroy Chair in Avian Health, Guo is researching avian influenza. “Historically, wild birds have been sampled only during the fall season in Minnesota,” Guo notes. “My work is providing an entirely new dataset.” So far, Guo says her research indicates that climate could be a contributing factor in the changing ecology of IAV because it can help to maintain the persistence of these viruses and influence the movement of wild waterfowl. She also notes that on-farm ponds and temporary ponding appear to be a risk factor for introductions. “My research is providing new understanding of how introductions occur, and it is improving our understanding of biosecurity practices used by the turkey industry,” says Guo. “It also is increasing our understanding of the role wild birds play in the spring—what viruses they carry and how they move.” IRENE BUENO PADILLA: river health and its impact on humans and wildlife fter learning epidemiological approaches to characterizing risks to humans and wildlife from discharges being made into a model river system, Dr. Irene Bueno Padilla plans to return to Europe. Once home, she hopes to apply the deep knowledge she acquired in ecosystem health and epidemiology during her studies at the CVM to help solve wildlife conservation problems in her native Spain, throughout Europe, and elsewhere around the world. A For the past seven years, Padilla has worked at the intersection where ecosystem health affects the health of wildlife and humans. After Dr. Irene Bueno Padilla looks for cormorant nests for potential sample locations in a protected wetland near Valdivia, Chile. Photo by Pedro Rodrigues 22 • profiles • University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine Photo by Sue Kirchoff

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