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RAPID: Characterization of Pathogens in Water, Soil and Animal Facilities for Resilience Assessment of Civil Infrastructure After Extreme Weather Events


<p>Hurricane Florence caused extensive flooding in North Carolina. Facilities housing thousands of pigs and millions of chickens were flooded, causing the spread of the hog waste, manure, animal residue and potentially releasing dangerous pathogens into the water. The inundation after hurricanes may lead to the outbreak of one or more In agricultural-dependent coastal regions and the joint impact of extreme natural events on human and animal infrastructure has not been studied. A robust civil infrastructure (animal shelters, water distribution and treatment systems, transportation, and animal waste lagoons) is critical to minimize these interactions and to limit the outbreak of diseases after a natural disaster. Surveillance and detection of a broad range of pathogens are not usually initiated until a few human cases of infection are reported. This Rapid Response Research (RAPID) project will collect key data on the presence and abundance of pathogens, which are often assumed otherwise, leading to potentially inaccurate reactive resource allocation strategies for disease outbreak prevention and containment.<br />
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The objective of this RAPID project is to use genomic epidemiology combined with bioinformatics and computational phylogenetic analyses to track pathogen sources and dispersal in water bodies to create spatial pathogenic profiles. Water and soil samples will be systematically collected near flooded farms with upstream locations serving as controls. Results from field data collection and associated analysis will provide data on the abundance, presence, and source of pathogens in water to assess the functionality of water infrastructure in the studied regions. The pathogen profiles will be combined with the human population, socio-demographics, infrastructure damage information, and data from a rapid flood model to develop a preliminary index which will characterize the spatial risk of disease outbreaks in the affected region. The analysis will help provide guidance on where to focus countermeasures (infrastructure rehabilitation, medicines, emergency personal, relief, and clean water supplies) to contain the risk of infection.<br />
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This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.</p>

Nguyen, Thanh; Rachel Whitaker; Joanna Shisler; Avinash Unnikrishnan; Antarpreet Jutla
University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign
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