Zoonotic Infectious Diseases
The landmark Institute of Medicine report, Emerging Infections: Microbial Threats to Health in the United States, highlighted the importance of the epidemiology, pathogenesis, and improved control for zoonotic infectious diseases in natural animal hosts—60% of all human pathogens are directly transmitted from or emergent from animal reservoirs. Understanding the behavior of zoonotic pathogens, including mechanisms of persistence, evolution of virulence, and genetic change underlying transmission phenotypes, is now widely recognized as critically important to addressing emerging infections. In addition, the importance of zoonotic pathogens and normal microbial flora of animals in emergence, formation of reservoirs, and spread of antimicrobial resistance has been highlighted in recent reports by both CDC and WHO. WSU is one of the few US research institutions with a stated focus on zoonotic disease research. Our zoonotic disease research portfolio spans multiple disciplines including, but not limited to biology of infectious disease, host defense, epidemiology, ecology, modeling, economics and nutrition. This strength includes research in: Lyme disease and Relapsing Fever; hemoparasitic disease and the biology of tick transmission processes and vaccine discovery; Brucellosis; Tularemia; Salmonella; Q Fever and Trachoma; Bubonic Plague; and global infectious disease surveillance and diagnostic capacity building in developing countries. The WSU zoonotic disease research enterprise has current external funding in excess of $60M from at least 7 granting agencies. As an example, WSU is among the top institutions in the US receiving funding from the CDC in the area of emerging and zoonotic infectious diseases. Our internationally recognized researchers include 2 National Academy of Medicine members, 6 Washington State Academy of Science members, and the first WSU recipient of the prestigious Burroughs Wellcome Investigators in the Pathogenesis of Infectious Disease Award.