A faculty member at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech has published a reference textbook for veterinary practices and investigators studying bacterial pathogenesis on one of the leading causes of bovine respiratory disease.

Thomas J. Inzana, the Tyler J. and Frances F. Young Chair in Bacteriology in the Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, served as editor for “Histophilus somni: Biology, Molecular Basis of Pathogenesis, and Host Immunity,” which was published earlier this year. The book reviews the current understanding of the taxonomy, genetics, biology, and pathogenic factors of Histophilus somni, a bovine pathogen.

Inzana also authored one chapter of the textbook entitled “The Many Facets of Lipooligosaccharide as a Virulence Factor for Histophilus somni” and co-authored the chapter “Exopolysaccharide Production and Biofilm Formation by Histophilus somni” with Briana Petruzzi, a graduate student in Inzana’s laboratory.

The 160-page reference book has eight chapters and includes contributions from faculty members at Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen; University of Wyoming; Institute of Bioinformatics and Applied Biotechnology in Bengaluru, India; Cornell University; University of Wisconsin; and University of California - San Diego.

Histophilus somni is not only one of the important agents responsible for respiratory disease affecting beef cattle, but also for multisystemic diseases that are the source of potentially devastating agricultural losses in the cattle industry. The disease presents itself most often in calves within four weeks of weaning, and can be fatal. Histophilus somni is also very similar to host-specific human pathogens that do not have an animal model. Therefore, studying how H. somni can cause disease in cattle also serves as a model for understanding the mechanisms underlying how related pathogens cause bacterial pneumonia, meningitis, and other human diseases.

Inzana, who is section head for the teaching hospital’s clinical microbiology laboratory, joined the veterinary college in 1987 and has previously served as a visiting professor at the State University of New York at Buffalo School of Medicine and at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and as the coordinator for the Center for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Diseases at the veterinary college. He is board certified by the American Board of Medical Microbiology and Public Health.

Inzana’s other research interests include the development of improved vaccines for bacterial pathogens and bio-warfare agents, host-immune response to bacterial pathogens, and the development of improved diagnostic tests for bacteria and bio-warfare agents.

Written by Kelsey Foster, a master’s degree student in the Department of Communication in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences

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