News

Global warming may limit spread of dengue fever, new research finds

Infection with dengue virus makes mosquitoes more sensitive to warmer temperatures, according to new research led by Penn State researchers. The team also found that infection with the bacterium Wolbachia, which has recently been used to control viral infections in mosquitoes, also increases the thermal sensitivity of the insects.

Australian megafires burn critical habitat of 'Vulnerable' virus-harboring bats

The severe megafires that occurred in eastern Australia during 2019-20 were much larger and more concentrated across the landscape than in previous years, according to a study by researchers at Penn State and the University of New South Wales. The unprecedented fires included the burning of 34% of the foraging habitat of grey-headed flying foxes, which are known to transmit deadly Lyssa and Hendra viruses.

Neglecting delays in outbreak response grossly underestimates epidemic severity

For livestock diseases, like foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) and swine flu, rapid culling and carcass disposal are well-established strategies for halting an outbreak and limiting its impact. However, even when infection is quickly detected delays in these interventions may permit pathogen transmission from infected farms.

Fighting COVID with COVID

What if the COVID-19 virus could be used against itself? Researchers at Penn State have designed a proof-of-concept therapeutic that may be able to do just that. The team designed a synthetic defective SARS-CoV-2 virus that is innocuous but interferes with the real virus’ growth, potentially causing the extinction of both the disease-causing virus and the synthetic virus.

International team develops predictive tool to help mitigate COVID-19 in Africa

The virus that gives rise to COVID-19 is the third coronavirus to threaten humanity in the past two decades. It also happens to move more efficiently from person to person than either SARS or MERS did. An international collaboration led by Penn State developed a surveillance modeling tool that provides a weekly projection of expected COVID-19 cases in all African countries, based on publicly available information.

David Hughes named Chair in Global Food Security

David Hughes, professor of entomology and biology in Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences and creator of PlantVillage, a knowledge platform that helps farmers combat pests and adapt to climate change, has been named the Dorothy Foehr Huck and J. Lloyd Huck Chair in Global Food Security in the University’s Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences.

Behavior limits COVID-19 spread between University and community

When universities across the U.S. opted to return students to campus for in-person learning during the coronavirus pandemic in the fall of 2020, surrounding communities were understandably concerned that COVID-19 infections rates would significantly increase. In response, several Penn State researchers formed the Centre County COVID-19 Data 4 Action Project (D4A) to conduct anonymous surveys and biological testing for nonstudent residents and Penn State students to document the social and economic impacts of the pandemic in one community.

PlantVillage team lauded for projects to protect food supply amid COVID, locusts

Penn State researchers responsible for PlantVillage, a mobile app that helps farmers diagnose crop diseases and monitor pests, have been lauded for their work to help African farmers overcome challenges related to desert locusts and COVID-19.

New images of canine parvovirus may help predict how virus jumps to new species

​Canine parvovirus (CPV) is a highly infectious pathogen that causes severe diseases in unvaccinated dogs, including inflammation of the heart and acute gastrointestinal illness. Originating in cats, the virus is a rare example of a DNA-based virus that can jump between species, and a team of researchers’ discovery may help in predicting this and the virus’ ability to evolve, which could have implications for current vaccines used in dogs.

Origins of an outbreak

It was late January 2020 when Maciej Boni realized that the COVID-19 pandemic was about to take over his life. Boni, associate professor of biology, is an epidemiologist with extensive expertise in viral evolution, including a recent focus on human and avian flu. When COVID-19 hit, he tapped into a network of colleagues around the world, quickly joining an international team intent on tracking the outbreak to its origins.