2012 Travel Reports

Wildlife Disease Association Conference
Lyon, France
July 22-27, 2012

Presentation by Christine Avena

Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine

Symposium Presentation/Poster:
Chronic Wasting Disease and Carnivores: A One-Health Approach to Conservation


Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a progressive, fatal, transmissible prion disease found in white-tailed and mule deer, elk, and moose located in fourteen states and Canada. The exact mechanism of transmission remains unknown, but contact with contaminated pastures or infected animals are considered to be risk factors. Currently CWD is limited to cervids, although other transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) are zoonotic. As a precaution, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warn against exposure to animals and meat products possibly infected with CWD. Previous studies proposed that wolves may limit the spread of CWD by predating on infected individuals. The presence of wolves alters the behavior, population density, and productivity of its prey and other cohabitating species. We hypothesize that framing the protection of wolves as a conservation medicine issue affecting human, animal, and environmental health will recruit previously reluctant stakeholders, such as hunters and ranchers. A literature review of the impact of wolf reintroduction and the history of chronic wasting disease will identify areas of overlap between reintroduced wolf populations and CWD infected cervids. A meta-analysis and GIS mapping of current data will outline what knowledge is available and identify gaps in the current research that can be addressed. States where CWD and wolves may interact will be selected for the development of hunter and rancher education and outreach programs. This project represents a novel method for recruiting members of opponent groups to take part in conservation to protect public health as well as promote a healthy ecosystem.


Twenty-Fourth Conference of the International Society for Environmental Epidemiology
Columbia, South Carolina
August 26-30, 2012

Presentation by Laura Corlin
Arts and Sciences

Symposium Presentation/Poster:
Determinates of asthma estimated from children at a museum of science


To examine the relative strength of environmental and social factors that are putatively associated with developing asthma in children, we recruited children and their parents attending an urban science museum.  Eligibility criteria for the survey were a child ages 4-12 and fluency in English.  Data collection was anonymous with no identifying information collected.  Our questionnaire included information on age, sex, SES, height and weight, birth weight and hospitalization at birth, siblings, diagnosis of asthma, native or foreign birth,  allergies, tobacco exposure, pets, breast feeding, pests in the home, daycare, living on a farm, sun exposure/vitamin D supplements, residential high traffic exposure, infectious illnesses, presence of items that can harbor dust mites in the child’s room, use of Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen and fear of crime in the neighborhood. Statistically significant associations were found for: allergies (OR=9.6; CI=4.3-21.2), maternal asthma (OR=2.1; CI=1.1-4.4), birth weight <2500g (OR=3.9; CI=1.1-14.3), water damage at home (OR=2.6; CI=1.0-6.9), hospitalization at birth (OR=7.3; CI=2.6-20.6), diagnosis of pneumonia (OR=2.3; CI=0.95-5.9), or RSV (OR=2.6; CI=1.2-5.6).  Several other associations could reach significance as our sample size increases, including cockroaches in the home (OR=3.7; CI=0.50-27.1), high BMI (OR=1.6; CI=0.77-3.4), >10 stuffed animals (OR=0.60; CI=0.30-1.2), never using sunscreen (OR=0.50; CI=0.16-1.5). Our data suggests that in these largely middle class children mother’s history of asthma, having allergies, low birth weight/hospitalization at birth, water damage in the home and prior diagnosis of pneumonia or RSV have the strongest associations with asthma.


Fourth International EcoSummit
Columbus, Ohio
September 30 – October 5, 2012

Presentation by Laura Read
Civil and Environmental Engineering

Symposium Presentation/Poster:
Advancing decision-support tools in watershed management: A review of game theory applications in water resources


River basin management is a complex issue that requires long-term negotiation, technical expertise and planning. Since rivers provide essential water supply for humans, industry, and biodiversity, proper management is vital for sustaining the global community. The reliance of human and societal development on river systems has created a new set of challenges. These challenges are especially acute in developing countries, where rapid population growth adds stress on water resources and increases vulnerability of developing populations to shortages and public health risks. With local governments hoping to take a more active role in protecting their water quality and quantity, new decision-support and negotiation management tools are in growing demand.

Optimization models are widely used for determining watershed management schemes, but generally do not include a comprehensive assessment of the social costs and benefits. Since water management is inherently a competition between engineering, environmental, social, and political demands, these social factors greatly influence the sustainability of management decisions. Game theory provides a useful tool for common pool resource management, as it analyzes potential strategies decision-makers can make and how a system (resource availability) would respond to different strategies. Several applications of game theory to water resource decision problems exist; however, a comprehensive review of the existing methodologies and potential benefits of using game theory in water management decision-making has not been completed. Our goal is to review and characterize the previous applications of game theory in both water resources management as well as related fields so that future research can focus on methodology improvements and integration of strategies into real applications. Since game theory has been a tool of several other disciplines, this work will depend on integrating knowledge and resources from engineering, economics, policy, and social learning principles.

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