EPSCoR Researcher studies dynamics of rabies in skunks in Kansas

Doctoral student, Heather Barton, is comparing two evolutionarily distinct variants of rabies that infect striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis). These variants have different epidemiological properties and epizootic patterns of emergence. We are characterizing genomic differences among variants to compare how these strains evolve and using population genetics of the host species to determine rates of dispersal among populations.

Building off this research, Masterís student Sarah Bowe is comparing habitat use and demography of striped skunks in agricultural and suburban areas. She will use these data to build epidemiological models that will elucidate how anthropogenic habitat changes influence host to host transmission potentials and the risk of human infection.