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Science and Innovations

Flagstaff’s TGen Institute Needs Dog Owners’ Help With Valley Fever Study


Scientists at a research institute in Flagstaff want dog owners to help with a new study about Valley Fever.

The Translational Genomics Research Institute, or TGen, is conducting the study.

Researchers plan to use samples of dog salivato help develop better treatments for Valley Fever in both dogs and humans. The disease is caused by a fungus found mostly in the soils of southern Arizona and California’s Central Valley.

Bridget Barker is the geneticist who leads the study. “Some people do not get sick at all from Valley Fever; they won’t even know they’ve been infected,” she says. “In 1 to 5 percent of the cases—we don’t really know the exact numbers—people can have very severe, potentially life threatening disease, and we don’t understand why that is.”  

The study will help determine why both dogs and people respond so differently to infection. Barker will use information submitted by dog owners to see if some breeds are more likely to get the disease than others.

Participants will send a sample of their dog’s saliva for DNA analysis. Researchers will look for differences in the genes of dogs that are sick compared to dogs that have been exposed but aren’t sick.

Pet owners with healthy or sick dogs who are interested in participating can find more information here.

Credit CDC
Reported cases of Valley Fever in the southwestern U.S.

Melissa joined KNAU's team in 2015 to report on science, health, and the environment. Her work has appeared nationally on NPR and been featured on Science Friday. She grew up in Tucson, Arizona, where she fell in love with the ecology and geology of the Sonoran desert.
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