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Build 2000

DNA Forensics Campers Assist With MNR Bait Drop Experiment

High school students taking part in the DNA Forensics Camp at Trent University took some time away from crime scene investigation to help members of the Ministry of Natural Resources' (MNR) Rabies Research and Development Unit with a bait impact experiment.

As part of the experiment, 3200 baits were dropped from a helicopter hovering at 150 metres on the East Bank of Trent University's Symons Campus at the Otonabee College Parking Lot on July 6. The four bait types being tested contained coloured water as a placebo for the actual rabies vaccine. Oral rabies vaccination (ORV) works by delivering vaccine to wildlife through baits that wild animals want to eat. By dropping the baits onto various surfaces and checking them for damage, improvements can be made in rabies control across Ontario.

DNA Forensics campers assisted by collecting the baits and sorting them for further analysis by Rabies Research and Development Unit staff members.

"Since 1989 Ontario has been a world leader in the research and control of rabies," says Rick Rosatte, a senior research scientist with the Rabies Research and Development Unit, based at Trent University. "Research like this helps protect the health and safety of the public, their pets and the wildlife of this province from this deadly infectious virus."

Since a proposal by the World Health Organization in 1966, the MNR has experimented with a variety of bait and oral vaccine formulations with great success. While any mammal can carry rabies, in Ontario the main rabies carriers are the fox, skunk and, more recently, the raccoon.

Trent University's partnership with Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources over the last eight years has presented opportunities for the sharing of resources and the creation of unique academic opportunities. This partnership has been a backbone of the Greater Peterborough Region DNA Cluster, which will provide continued advances in genetic research and establish Peterborough as a world leader in the field. The Greater Peterborough Region DNA Cluster is an initiative to develop a regional centre of excellence in DNA and forensic science.

"Working together in partnership and shared purpose is something Trent University is always eager to do, whether it be on a experiment like this one, or an initiative as extensive as the DNA Cluster," says President Bonnie Patterson.

Posted June 30, 2004

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Last Updated June 24, 2003