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|Seroprevalence and Cytopathic Effects of Marine-Origin Brucella on the Human and Beluga Whale Immune System|
Knowledge of the effects of infectious diseases on both animal and human consumer populations is critical in order to assess potential health threats. Marine brucellosis is an emerging infectious disease with apparent worldwide distribution and currently unknown potential for causing disease in both marine mammals and humans. Since 1994, marine origin Brucella species have been isolated from numerous marine mammals worldwide. In addition to the numerous species of marine mammals that have been infected with marine origin Brucella, there have been 4 confirmed cases of human infection with these strains.
The actual route of transmission is unknown in 3 of these cases, while one was a known laboratory acquired infection. However, the true extent of human exposure to and disease from marine origin Brucella is not currently known, particularly as it is only in the past 14 years that an effort has been made to distinguish this species of Brucella from the 6 known terrestrial species.
The purpose of this study is to investigate and characterize the interactions of marine origin Brucella with cells of the immune system from humans and beluga whales. We are using several different tools to investigate these intracellular interactions, including flow cytometry to evaluate phagocytosis and respiratory burst activity by human and beluga neutrophils and monocytes in response to marine Brucella infection. We are also evaluating inflammatory cytokine production by beluga and human monocytes to better understand how these monocytes respond to infection by this bacteria. This information will help us understand how marine Brucella affects immune cells from host-adapted (beluga) and non-host adapted (human) species, and how these bacteria survive within these cells.
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