Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Targeting Potentially Deadly Parasites In Unique Research Facility

Date:
September 14, 1999
Source:
University Of Nebraska, Lincoln
Summary:
In a one-of-a-kind, biologically secure facility, scientists painstakingly feed, rear and nurture a potentially deadly parasite -- the screwworm. Why all the TLC for flesh-eating maggots? To wipe them from the face of the Earth.

LINCOLN, Neb. -- In a one-of-a-kind, biologically secure facility, scientists painstakingly feed, rear and nurture a potentially deadly parasite -- the screwworm. Why all the TLC for flesh-eating maggots? To wipe them from the face of the Earth.

Consider the screwworm's nasty business. Adult flies lay eggs near warm-blooded animals' wounds. Eggs hatch into larvae, or maggots, that feed and grow in wounds until they drop off, pupate in soil and start the cycle anew.

It's not pretty. Untreated screwworm infestations can kill a grown steer in under a week. Before being eradicated from the United States in the late 1970s, screwworms devastated the southern U.S. livestock industry, costing hundreds of millions annually. And wherever there are screwworms, there are a few human infestations.

Entomologists operate the world's only screwworm research rearing facility at the USDA Agricultural Research Service's Midwest Livestock Insects Research Unit at the University of Nebraska. They raise the critters to find ways to identify, control and, ultimately, eliminate them. Their research supports international screwworm eradication efforts.

"The only way to control a population is to understand it so you have to raise it. If you understand it, you can learn its weak links and how to control it," said Steve Skoda, who studies screwworms along with colleague Dennis Berkebile. Both are adjunct faculty in NU's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Such understanding led the team to develop a simple, fast and accurate test that can be used worldwide to identify suspected screwworms.

This ELISA, or enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay, works like a home pregnancy test. "You just squash a fly, larva, pupa, egg or fly part, blot it on paper and apply a couple of substances. If it turns blue, you?ve got a screwworm. You're done in three hours," Skoda said. The test is easy to use and more than 99 percent accurate.

Previously, suspects had to be shipped to a laboratory for initial identification. That meant a long, anxious wait for officials who might have to launch expensive measures to quell re-infestation if the suspect proved to be a screwworm.

"This ELISA technique is going to help the entire program and save lots of money," said Gus Thomas, head of USDA"s Midwest Livestock Insects Research Unit.

Researchers also devised ways to track screwworm origins at the request of the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization and USDA's Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service, which heads eradication enforcement. Skoda adapted genetic fingerprinting techniques to distinguish different screwworm strains and origins. Knowing the origin is important to tracking and controlling infestations.

A technique for freezing and preserving screwworm eggs was developed at the facility, and is being refined to make it reliable enough to use at the international screwworm rearing station in Mexico. This station produces sterile flies that mate with wild females that produce no offspring, so a population gradually disappears.

"This is very painstaking, long-term research," Thomas said. "It hasn't been done with many insects."

USDA's screwworm research and rearing station at the University of Nebraska is a certified biologically secure facility --nothing gets in or out without precautions. Alarms guard sealed doors. Entry requires identification and changing into clothes that are left behind before showering out. Research is conducted under strict quarantine.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Nebraska, Lincoln. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Nebraska, Lincoln. "Targeting Potentially Deadly Parasites In Unique Research Facility." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 September 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/09/990914082017.htm>.
University Of Nebraska, Lincoln. (1999, September 14). Targeting Potentially Deadly Parasites In Unique Research Facility. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/09/990914082017.htm
University Of Nebraska, Lincoln. "Targeting Potentially Deadly Parasites In Unique Research Facility." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/09/990914082017.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The Wawona Packing Company has issued a voluntary recall on the stone fruit it distributes due to a possible Listeria outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

Michigan Plant's Goal: Flower and Die

AP (July 22, 2014) An 80-year-old agave plant, which is blooming for the first and only time at a University of Michigan conservatory, will die when it's done (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The 83 new genetic markers could open dozens of new avenues for schizophrenia treatment research. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
CDC Head Concerned About a Post-Antibiotic Era

CDC Head Concerned About a Post-Antibiotic Era

AP (July 22, 2014) Sounding alarms about the growing threat of antibiotic resistance, CDC Director Tom Frieden warned Tuesday if the global community does not confront the problem soon, the world will be living in a devastating post-antibiotic era. (July 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins