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  1. Macaluso, Kevin (Ed.)
    Abstract The western black-legged tick (Ixodes pacificus) is the most frequently identified human-biting tick species in the western United States and the principal vector of at least three recognized bacterial pathogens of humans. A potentially pathogenic Rickettsia species, first described in 1978 and recently characterized as a novel transitional group agent designated as Rickettsia tillamookensis, also exists among populations of I. pacificus, although the distribution and frequency of this agent are poorly known. We evaluated DNA extracts from 348 host-seeking I. pacificus nymphs collected from 9 locations in five California counties, and from 916 I. pacificus adults collected from 24 locations in 13 counties, by using a real-time PCR designed specifically to detect DNA of R. tillamookensis. DNA of R. tillamookensis was detected in 10 (2.9%) nymphs (95% CI: 1.6–5.2%) and 17 (1.9%) adults (95% CI: 1.2–3.0%) from 11 counties of northern California. Although site-specific infection rates varied greatly, frequencies of infection remained consistently low when aggregated by stage, sex, habitat type, or geographical region. Four novel isolates of R. tillamookensis were cultivated in Vero E6 cells from individual adult ticks collected from Alameda, Nevada, and Yolo counties. Four historical isolates, serotyped previously as ‘Tillamook-like’ strains over 40 yr ago,more »were revived from long-term storage in liquid nitrogen and confirmed subsequently by molecular methods as isolates of R. tillamookensis. The potential public health impact of R. tillamookensis requires further investigation.« less
  2. Abstract Background

    Fire strongly affects animals’ behavior, population dynamics, and environmental surroundings, which in turn are likely to affect their immune systems and exposure to pathogens. However, little work has yet been conducted on the effects of wildfires on wildlife disease. This research gap is rapidly growing in importance because wildfires are becoming globally more common and more severe, with unknown impacts on wildlife disease and unclear implications for livestock and human health in the future.


    Here, we discussed how wildfires could influence susceptibility and exposure to infection in wild animals, and the potential consequences for ecology and public health. In our framework, we outlined how habitat loss and degradation caused by fire affect animals’ immune defenses, and how behavioral and demographic responses to fire affect pathogen exposure, spread, and maintenance. We identified relative unknowns that might influence disease dynamics in unpredictable ways (e.g., through altered community composition and effects on free-living parasites). Finally, we discussed avenues for future investigations of fire-disease links.


    We hope that this review will stimulate much-needed research on the role of wildfire in influencing wildlife disease, providing an important source of information on disease dynamics in the wake of future wildfires and other natural disasters, andmore »encouraging further integration of the fields of fire and disease ecology.

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  3. In order to understand the extent to which airborne PFAS emission can impact soil and groundwater, we conducted a sampling campaign in areas of conserved forest lands near Bennington, VT/Hoosick Falls, NY. This has been home to sources of PFAS air-emissions from Teflon-coating operations for over 50 years. Since 2015, the Vermont and New York Departments of Environmental Conservation have documented ∼1200 residential wells and two municipal water systems across a 200 km 2 area contaminated with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). Given the large areal extent of the plume, and the fact that much of the contaminated area lies up-gradient and across rivers from manufactures, we seek to determine if groundwater contamination could have resulted primarily from air-emission, land deposition, and subsequent leaching to infiltrating groundwater. Sampling of soils and groundwater in the Green Mountain National Forest (GMNF) downwind of factories shows that both soil and groundwater PFOA contamination extend uninterrupted from inhabited areas into conserved forest lands. Groundwater springs and seeps in the GMNF located 8 km downwind, but >300 meters vertically above factories, contain up to 100 ppt PFOA. Our results indicate that air-emitted PFAS can contaminate groundwater and soil in areas outside of those normally considered down-gradient ofmore »a source with respect to regional groundwater flow.« less