SVM Areas of Research Emphasis

Vector-Borne Disease (VBD) Emphasis

Vector-Borne Disease (VBD) Emphasis focuses on serologic and molecular studies to assess exposure and infection prevalence, and the development of high through-put assays for the detection of VBD pathogens infecting dogs, ruminants, horses and bats and transmitted by ticks and mosquitos. DVM student participation is present in all of these projects.

Tick-borne diseases in dogs: E. canis, and A. platys have been studied in dogs in all parishes of Grenada, Petit Martinique, and Carriacou.  These studies include faculty in the departments of SAMS and PTHB and utilize traditional PCR assays, commercial serological  assays and novel newly developed serological and molecular multiplex assays (Magpix, Luminex®).  Screening for tick-borne pathogens in dogs, ruminants, and ticks is ongoing in collaboration with Dr. Roman Ganta, Director of the Center of Excellence of Vector Borne Diseases, Kansas State University.

Tick-borne diseases in large animals: SVM faculty are involved in prevalence of tick-borne diseases in large animals and small ruminants and the prevalence and species of ticks in Grenada. Blood and ticks have been collected from horses on Grenada, Barbados and Curacao and antibody titers for Babesia equi have been measured using the C6 ELISA. The samples are currently being evaluated for the presence of tick-borne pathogens using the PCR-Reverse Line Blot technique.

Ehrlichia and heartworm prevention/treatment studies in dogs: Ehrlichia prevention studies in dogs have been underway since 2012.  The objective is to determine if low dose doxycycline can prevent Ehrlichia in dogs newly introduced to Grenada.  A recently completed 2-year efficacy study evaluated Advantage Multi® as a treatment for dogs with naturally-occurring Dirofilaria immitis infection.  Both of these studies have the potential to impact treatment and prevention of these high prevalence pathogens in dogs in Grenada and the region.

Mosquito-transmitted viruses in mosquitoes and bats: Bats are increasingly recognized as reservoir hosts for a number of high impact human viruses.  Grenada is endemic for Dengue virus and in 2014 Chikungunya virus was introduced and in 2015 Zika virus was introduced.  In 2014, 4 SVM faculty initiated a study to determine whether any of these human pathogenic mosquito-transmitted virus infect bats under natural conditions.  This project led to collaborations with a bat expert at the University of Washington and a bat/virus expert at Colorado State University, both of whom came to SGU as Research Visiting Professors and continue to collaborate with us.  Samples from bats collected for the viral pathogen studies are also being used to identify zoonotic bacteria including Campylobacter, Salmonella, pathogenic E. coli and rickettsia and other zoonotic pathogens such as Leptospira and hantaviruses.

SVM faculty recently initiated a yearlong surveillance project to determine the presence of arboviral pathogens in wild-caught mosquitos collected throughout Grenada, 1 year after the 2016 Zika outbreak. They are collaborating with Louisiana State University (LSU) Department of Entomology and the LSU Genomics Facility to use next-generation sequencing technologies to identify and sequence viruses associated with human and animal diseases in Aedes aegypti and Culex quinquefasciatus mosquitoes caught in Grenada. Tissues and blood from bats have been collected to determine if they are a host for any viruses identified by sequencing.

Aquatic Animal Disease Emphasis

Research is an essential component of the Aquatic Animal Medicine Program’s (AAMP) mission of advancing aquatic animal health. Faculty in the AAMP have particularly strong records of scientific publication in pathology and diseases of aquatic wildlife and aquaculture raised fish. Central to this research is the ocean-front, 2,200 square foot Aquatic Animal Medicine Research Laboratory (AAMRL) that houses saltwater and freshwater animal holding facilities, a diagnostic laboratory with molecular capacities and benchtop space, and a multi-media classroom. The capabilities of the AAMRL are among the best in the Caribbean and the facility serves as a regional hub for diagnostics and research. Graduate and veterinary student-driven research includes applied projects influencing local and global aquatic animal health.

In collaboration with Ocean Spirits Inc., there is ongoing research to support the local green, hawksbill, and leatherback turtle populations in Grenada. This includes characterizing causes of morbidity and mortality. Health assessments and studies on infectious disease surveillance are performed on nesting and free-swimming turtles. Grenada is home to active leatherback nesting beaches and ongoing research strives to study and enhance hatchling survivability. As part of the broader picture, additional research examines the effect of an educational curriculum on attitudes and perceptions of grade school students on sea turtle conservation in Grenada.

A multi-tiered approach is being used to study Grenada’s inshore reef ecosystems. Invasive lionfish are being evaluated for their susceptibility to bacterial, viral, parasitic and fungal pathogens and their risk for spreading pathogens in the Caribbean Sea. Lionfish are also being explored as potential sentinel and laboratory models to monitor and study environmental health. In collaboration with the University of Guelph, coral reef mapping combined with proteomic studies are being performed to better understand coral regeneration.

Faculty and students are engaged in developing sustainable aquaculture on a global and local scale. This includes better characterizing major and emerging pathogens of tilapia, catfish, and salmonids. The AAMRL also provides diagnostics and research support to the local aquaponics industry in Grenada. This includes a selective breeding program for growth in tilapia and characterizing infectious disease risks present in Grenadian wild and cultured fish.

Zoonoses and Public Health Research Emphasis

Zoonoses and Public Health Research Emphasis reflects a OHOM approach facilitated by collaborations between the SVM and the academic Department of Public Health and Preventive Medicine within the SOM.  The DVM/MPH students are major participants in this research focus area.  Research areas include seroprevalence studies of zoonotic agents in various domestic and wild animals and antimicrobial resistance patterns and molecular typing of zoonotic pathogens.  These efforts are enhanced by collaborations with US based institutions, including Washington State University and the University of Florida.  In addition to pathogen-based research, SVM faculty and DVM/MPH students are involved in a study on pet ownership and its effect on academic performances among veterinary students

Parasitology Research

Parasitology Research objectives focus on the pathobiology of parasites and zoonotic parasitic diseases of importance to the region.  Grenada is an excellent setting in which meaningful parasitology research is possible because of location and environmental conditions. The program is international and includes collaborations involving both students and faculty in Morocco, Uganda, Kenya, Turkey, Romania, Peru, Brazil, Guyana, St. Lucia, and the Dominican Republic. The SVM parasitology faculty have long standing research and teaching collaborations with WINDREF, the SOM, the University of Georgia and the National Wildlife Health Center (U. S. Geological Survey).  SGUSVM recently became part of the Veterinary Parasitology Diagnostic Network (VetPDx) which is a novel collaborative effort of parasitology diagnostic laboratories in the United States and Canada.  Examples of current projects include:  anthelmintic resistance of gastrointestinal parasites in small ruminants in Grenada; parasites in Norway rats in Grenada; the prevalence of hookworm species in Fiji within the free-roaming dog population.   The addition of a molecular entomologist to our faculty has expanded our focus to include PCR identification of fish parasites, ectoparasites of honey bees and the pathogens they transmit.