Understanding viral diseases in animals and food

1:00 - 1:30 pm

The Evolution of Viral Zoonoses

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Speaker Profile:

Edward Holmes Ph.D., is an ARC Australian Laureate Fellow at the University of Sydney, with concurrent Professorial appointments in the School of Life & Environmental Sciences and the School of Medical Sciences. Prior to joining the University of Sydney, Eddie was the Verne M. Willaman Chair in the Life Sciences at The Pennsylvania State University. Eddie received his undergraduate degree from the University of London and his Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge. He performed postdoctoral research at the Universities of California (Davis), Edinburgh and Oxford. Between 1993-2004 he held various positions at the University of Oxford. His research focuses on the emergence, evolution and spread of RNA viruses, with special emphasis on revealing the genetic and epidemiological processes that underpin viral emergence, the molecular epidemiology of important human and animal pathogens, understanding the nature of global virus diversity, and the major mechanisms of virus evolution. In 2008 he became a Kavli Fellow of the National Academy of Sciences and in 2010 he won the Faculty Scholars Medal in the Life and Health Sciences at Penn State. He was elected a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science (FAA) in 2015 and a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2017.


         Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Disease and Biosecurity, School of Life & Environmental Sciences and School of Medical Sciences, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.

         Zoonotic diseases have long been a major burden on human societies and are expected to increase in frequency and impact as we interact more with the animal world and as the global population increases in size and connectedness. Fortunately, new genomic tools, particularly metagenomic next-generation sequencing (mNGS), provide a powerful means to rapidly reveal the microbial composition of any sample without bias, provide key information on the diversity, structure and evolution of the virosphere, help determine how microbes move across the human-animal interface and the drivers of disease emergence, and reveal the origins of specific epidemics. Herein, I demonstrate the utility of mNGS for pathogen discovery and understanding disease emergence on clinically actionable timescales. In doing so, I will demonstrate how these genomic tools can form a key component to new approaches to pandemic preparedness. As an example, I will focus on the initial emergence of COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) at the end of 2019, exploring why coronaviruses seem particularly able to jump species boundaries and emerge in new hosts. I will conclude by briefly outlining the ways in which we can potentially prevent pandemics like that of COVID-19 ever happening again

1:30 - 1:50 pm


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​Speaker Profile:

Xinhui Li, Ph.D., is an Associate  Professor of Microbiology at the University of Wisconsin LaCrosse. His research interests lie in the area of food microbiology, with a focus on antibiotic resistance in the food chain and inactivation of foodborne viruses.  He holds a B. Eng. and M.Sc. from South China University of Technology, and a Ph.D. from the Ohio State University. Xinhui was a Postdoctoral Researcher at the  University of Delaware from 2011 to 2015.


       Human norovirus is the leading cause of foodborne illness in the United States. Foods involved in the outbreaks include produce, such as leafy greens and fruits, and shellfish, such as oyster, because they are not or minimally processed before consumed. Eating food or drinking liquids contaminated with the virus is one common way people get human norovirus. People can also get human norovirus by touching surfaces or objects contaminated by the virus then put the fingers in the mouth, or eating food that has been put on the contaminated area. Several methods to inactivate human norovirus in foods, and control human norovirus on surfaces have been investigated, and since a convenient cell culture system to cultivate human norovirus is still lacking, surrogates are commonly used for related research. For example, inactivation of human norovirus and its surrogates by high pressure processing and the influence of different factors, such as pH and temperature have been studied. The efficacy of copper and copper alloy surfaces in inactivating human norovirus and its surrogates has also been evaluated.

1:50 - 2:10 pm

African Swine Fever

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​Speaker Profile:

Tiffany Lee DVM, Ph.D., earned her MSc degree in 2012, focusing on ruminant nutrition and physiology.  She also earned her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Kansas State University in 2012. She practiced veterinary medicine in a mixed animal clinic in Limon, Colorado.  In 2017, she earned a Ph.D. in Pathobiology from Kansas State University. Dr. Lee currently serves as a Director of Regulatory and Scientific Affairs for the North American Meat Institute, where she provides veterinary consult and informed scientific analysis to its members on many issues, including food safety, nutrition, public health initiatives, biotechnology, new technologies, research priorities, and animal health and welfare. She is also staff liaison for the Meat Institute's Animal Welfare Committee.  She serves on the American Association of Bovine Practitioners' Foundation Board, Animal Welfare Committee, and Genomics Committee.  She is also chair of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians' Pork Safety Committee and serves on the National Swine Disease Response Council.


        Any foreign animal disease outbreak in the United States would likely wreak havoc on the food animal production supply chain. An example of such devastating effects can be seen in the trade restrictions put in place immediately after finding a cow affected with Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy in a cow imported into the United States from Canada in 2003. There are currently multiple, widespread outbreaks of African Swine Fever (ASF) in eastern Europe and southeast Asia. Stakeholders in the United States are actively engaged in discussions focused on prevention, planning, and preparedness if ASF reaches the Americas. The current presentation will inform on various foreign animal diseases that pose a risk to food animal production in the United States, focusing on African Swine Fever and the risks the disease poses to the U.S. swine industry. Audience members should expect to leave the conference with a better knowledge of the threats that multiple foreign animal diseases pose to the U.S. livestock industry, an understanding of why African Swine Fever is currently considered a significant risk to the swine industry, and an awareness of the efforts that various government agencies and industry stakeholders are making to prevent and prepare for an outbreak of African Swine Fever in the United States.

 2:10 - 2:30 pm

Hepatitis E virus an emerging foodborne pathogen: 

reservoirs and high-risk foods 

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​Speaker Profile:

Erin DiCaprio, Ph.D., is a food virologist with expertise in food safety and hazard analysis. Her research focuses on understanding foodborne viruses' interaction with foods, investigating emerging foodborne viruses, and developing control strategies to control viruses in the food chain. As an Assistant Cooperative Extension Specialist in Community Food Safety, she supports small food processors, food entrepreneurs, food hubs, growers, and consumers in issues related to food safety and food regulations. Dr. DiCaprio is a Food Safety Preventive Controls Alliance Preventive Controls for Human Food Lead Instructor. She is also a FSMA Produce Safety Rule, Produce Safety Alliance Lead Trainer. She is also an instructor for the Acidified Foods Manufacturing School and the Better Process Control School.


      Historically, hepatitis E virus (HEV) infections are waterborne and centralized in developing countries with poor water sanitation.  However, in recent years, locally-acquired HEV infections have been reported in industrialized countries and an increasing number of these infections are foodborne. HEV is unique compared to other food borne viruses because it is known to be zoonotic.  HEV is a member of the Hepeviridae family in the genus Orthohepevirus. The Orthohepevirus A species includes the four HEV genotypes (HEV1-4) that infect humans. HEV1 and HEV2 are often the causative agents of waterborne HEV outbreaks and, to date, strains in these genotypes have only been found to infect humans. HEV3 and HEV4 are zoonotic and infect pigs, wild boar, deer, primates, and rabbits in addition to humans. Contributing to concerns surrounding potential zoonotic and foodborne HEV infections is the fact that HEV is endemic on conventional swine farms worldwide and has been detected in wildlife such as wild boar and deer.  This means there is potential for pork derived products to be contaminated with HEV, as well as other foods cross-contaminated with feces from reservoir species.  Here we will discuss what is known to date about the prevalence of HEV in reservoir species and pork products in the US and potential risk factors leading to zoonotic and foodborne transmission of HEV.