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Infectious Diseases: Wildlife Disease Reporting System Launched

Sep 08, 2015 01:34 PM EDT
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Scientists studying diseases threatening amphibian, reptile and fish populations now can report findings on a new online portal. This new wildlife disease reporting system is called the Global Ranavirus Reporting System (GRRS) and was developed by researchers from the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture (UTIA).

According to a news release, ranaviruses cause bleeding disorders in amphibians, reptiles and fish. They have been labeled as the "Ebola of ectothermic vertebrate species," and the GRRS developers believe that this new system will help in infectious disease surveillance and reporting.

"Ranaviruses can have severe impacts on amphibians at the community level. The GRRS provides a great tool to share surveillance data. The GRRS has the potential to provide a stronger link between research and wildlife management," Stephen Price, a post-doctoral scientist and ranavirus expert of University College London, said in the release.

According to UTIA, the new reporting system is an open-source web platform that can store, share and illustrate ranavirus data collected worldwide. Ranavirus scientists in the field or the lab can upload their data for future download and analysis, while still maintaining access controls to protect and share their uploaded datasets how they see fit. Users even have the flexibility of examining their datasets as tables, maps or charts.

"The GRRS fills a critical gap in ranavirus research by providing a user friendly platform for data entry and extraction that will be invaluable for researchers and managers seeking to understand ranavirus epidemiology at multiple scales," Jason Hoverman, a former UTIA post-doc who is currently an assistant professor at Purdue University, said in the release.

The GRRS creates a new generation of disease mapping and analysis that can better help the scientific community's understanding of ranaviruses and how to react to outbreaks. As such, it is encouraged that scientists and veterinarians upload records of any past or future cases.

The GRRS was a collaboration effort of UTIA professors Debra Miller and Matthew Gray, along with the UTIA Center for Wildlife Health, scientists in the Global Ranavirus Consortium, the U.S. Forest Service and the EcoHealth Alliance

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN). 

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