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Tuesday, January 30 • 4:00pm - 4:20pm
SYMPOSIA-12: Collaborative Efforts to Identify New Pathogens Using Metagenomic Methods: Opening Pandora's Box and Closing It Again

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AUTHORS. Tony L. Goldberg, University of Wisconsin-Madison

ABSTRACT. Wildlife population declines around the world are increasingly attributed to infectious disease.  This talk describes efforts to discover the causes of disease outbreaks in populations of wildlife ranging from African apes to North American fishes.  Next-generation DNA sequencing, which can detect both known and novel agents, allows an unprecedented opportunity to characterize the diversity of microbes (eukaryotic parasites, bacteria and viruses) and to search for particular agents that are present in affected individuals or populations but absent or at lower concentration elsewhere.  Nevertheless, application of these methods to cases or populations without careful clinical or epidemiological controls can lead to a high false-positive rate and inefficient use of resources.  Collaborative efforts to coordinate successful wildlife disease responses should incorporate these new technologies but guided by careful applications of traditional approaches from epidemiology and pathology.  If suspect agents are discovered, specific diagnostic tests should be developed and applied to larger samples and other locations, and causal associations should not be assumed without additional evidence.  Metagenomic methods for pathogen discovery have the potential to inform efforts ranging from improved management of wild populations to guidelines for captive propagation.  In addition, they can provide important baseline information by which to assess the impacts of future environmental changes on wildlife health.  But, they should be undertaken only as part of an integrated strategy.

Tuesday January 30, 2018 4:00pm - 4:20pm CST