student profile: Ms Karen Mathews


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Thesis work

Thesis title: The Role of Australian Macropods in Q fever

Supervisors: Paul SHEEHY , Katrina BOSWARD

Thesis abstract:

Q fever is a notifiable zoonotic disease caused by Coxiella burnetii. Domestic ruminants are identified as the main reservoirs of human infection with highest notification rates occurring in those associated with livestock/meat industries, however, a recent rise in notifications in people reporting contact with wildlife (especially macropods) has been identified. Whilst there evidence that macropods do become infected with C. burnetii suggesting a potential role for macropods, particularly kangaroos, as a source of C. burnetii infection for humans. There have been no studies that have investigated the cycle of infection of C. burnetii in kangaroos which is a vital next step in understanding the true risk that macropods may present for C. burnetii transmission to humans.

To confirm the hypothesis that wildlife carers are at increased risk of exposure to Coxiella burnetii and acquiring Q fever disease through their increased exposure to macropods in particular kangaroos, the seroprevalence of antibody to C. burnetii (Q fever) in Australian wildlife carers will be measured. These results will then be correlated with information collected from a survey of the same individuals regarding animal and other potential exposure history, Q fever related illness and vaccine history.The presence, location and genotype(s) of C. burnetii DNA present in kangaroo tissues will be ascertained by extracting DNA from various kangaroo tissue types and performing molecular analysis with C. burnetii specific PCR assays. To assist in demonstrating relevance to human disease any samples positive for C. burnetii will be genotyped and compared to those recovered from humans. A better understanding of the potential risk macropod exposure poses will enable an understanding of how those who come into contact with wildlife can be better protected from acquiring Q fever disease and it also has relevance to the pet food industry as kangaroo meat is often a constituent of pet food.

Selected publications

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Journals

  • Bosward, K., House, J., Deveridge, A., Mathews, K., Sheehy, P. (2016). Development of a loop-mediated isothermal amplification assay or the detection of Streptococcus agalactiae in bovine milk. Journal of Dairy Science, 99(3), 2142-2150. [More Information]

Conferences

  • Wei, J., Cavanagh, J., Riley, L., Mathews, K., Sheehy, P., Wynn, P., Raadsma, H., Williamson, P. (2005). Analysis of ABCG2, a selected candidate gene associated with dairy traits. Dairy research Foundation Symposium 2005, Sydney: University of Sydney.

2016

  • Bosward, K., House, J., Deveridge, A., Mathews, K., Sheehy, P. (2016). Development of a loop-mediated isothermal amplification assay or the detection of Streptococcus agalactiae in bovine milk. Journal of Dairy Science, 99(3), 2142-2150. [More Information]

2005

  • Wei, J., Cavanagh, J., Riley, L., Mathews, K., Sheehy, P., Wynn, P., Raadsma, H., Williamson, P. (2005). Analysis of ABCG2, a selected candidate gene associated with dairy traits. Dairy research Foundation Symposium 2005, Sydney: University of Sydney.

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