Media Advisory: Ohio State experts offers new webinar on novel coronavirus

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COLUMBUS, Ohio —Linda Saif, a scientist with The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) and the College of Veterinary Medicine (CVM), has recorded “Coronaviruses: One world, one health, mild and severe, human and animal threats” as part of Ohio State’s Global One Health initiative monthly webinar series. View the webinar at go.osu.edu.saifcovid-19.

The coronavirus, COVID-19, is being blamed for at least 3,254 deaths and more than 94,902 confirmed illnesses in some 83 countries since December 2019, with at least 155 cases of coronavirus reported in the United States across at least 15 states. At least 10 people have died as a result of COVID-19 in Washington State and one person died in Northern California, officials said. Officials said evidence suggests the virus might have spread undetected in Washington State for weeks. Officials say the virus has killed about 3.4 percent of those diagnosed with the illness — a higher rate than experts had estimated previously.

Saif is known nationally and internationally for her work on enteric viruses, including coronaviruses, which affect food-producing animals, wildlife, and humans. Saif is also a member of Ohio State’s Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI), where she is a co-director for the Viruses and Emerging Pathogens Program. She is also  a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a Distinguished University Professor at Ohio State, where she is a faculty member in the Food Animal Health Research Program, a CFAES unit affiliated with the CVM.

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that include the common cold, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), all of which can infect both humans and animals, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). 

Saif’s webinar provides information on COVID-19, MERS and SARS, transmission rates, and death rates, and it offers a Q&A session.

Saif has spent her career working on coronaviruses, focusing primarily on swine, cattle, and wildlife species—the coronavirus pathogen can be deadly, especially in young pigs and calves—and how the virus is transmitted between animal species and between animals and people, the latter of which is known as zoonotic interspecies transmission.

Saif’s lab was the first to document the interspecies transmission of coronaviruses from wild ruminants to cattle and from cattle to poultry. In cattle, Saif’s lab documented that respiratory coronavirus infections frequently occur in animals shortly after periods of stress such as arrival to feedlots following long-distance shipping, and the lab identified them as a component of the shipping fever complex.

Her research on ruminant coronaviruses and their interspecies transmission is particularly relevant to the documented zoonotic transmission of MERS from camels to humans in the Middle East. She previously traveled to Saudi Arabia to serve as an advisor to the Ministry of Agriculture to investigate this animal link to MERS. Since 2003, her lab has served as a WHO reference lab for animal coronaviruses.

Saif can be reached for comment at 330-263-3742 or saif.2@osu.edu.

In addition to Saif, the following Ohio State virologists are all FAHRP and IDI members who work with and can comment on coronaviruses: 

  • Qiuhong Wang is an associate professor and specializes in prevention, detection, pathogenesis, and vaccine development for viral infections, especially for coronaviruses and other emerging viral pathogens. Wang can be reached at 330-263-3740 or wang.655@osu.edu
  • Anastasia Vlasova is an assistant professor and specializes in innate immunity and molecular characterization of emerging animal, human, and zoonotic viruses. She also focuses on emerging and re-emerging animal, human, and zoonotic viruses, to understand their molecular evolution and interspecies transmission and to develop diagnostic tools and control measures. Vlasova can be reached at 330-263-3740 or vlasova.1@osu.edu.
  • Scott Kenney is an assistant professor and specializes in expertise in delta coronavirus, hepatitis E virus, molecular virology, porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus, RNA viruses, Zika virus, zoonosis, host-defense and microbial biology, and emerging pathogens. Kenney can be reached at 330-263-3747 or kenney.157@osu.edu.
For more information contact: 
Tracy Turner
614-688-1067
Source(s): 

Linda Saif
330-263-3742 
saif.2@osu.edu.

Qiuhong Wang 
330-263-3740 
wang.655@osu.edu.

Anastasia Vlasova 
330-263-3740
vlasova.1@osu.edu.

Scott Kenney 
330-263-3747 
kenney.157@osu.edu.