sealPurdue Science Tips

May 1995

Rabies outbreak may be headed your way

A rabies epidemic in the Northeast is slowly heading west, and pet owners should be concerned, says a Purdue veterinarian. Dr. Lawrence T. Glickman, professor of veterinary epidemiology and environmental health, said raccoons and skunks are the main culprits in spreading the disease, and cases have been reported in eastern Ohio. Rabies generally travels about 100 miles a year. Regardless of whether their state requires it, pet owners in the Midwest should have their animals vaccinated, Glickman said. That's true even if the pet lives inside, because infected bats can get into the house. Glickman is particularly concerned about a trend among dog owners who contend that the vaccine makes their animals sick, and therefore refuse to inoculate their dogs. Hikers and campers who take pets on their trips should make sure their animals' rabies vaccinations are up-to-date and should avoid handfeeding any wild animal. Signs that a wild animal might be infected with the disease are any abnormal behavior, such as aggressiveness or overfriendliness, or any indication of paralysis such as dragging a foot. Photo of Glickman available from Purdue News Service, (765) 494-2096. CONTACT: Glickman, (765) 494-6301; Internet,

Sea Grant Program moves to Purdue

The Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant Program, formerly based at the University of Illinois, now calls Purdue home. Established in 1982, the program promotes stewardship, conservation and appropriate use of the resources of the Great Lakes region. It also seeks to enhance the quality of life throughout the region via research and extension activities focusing on the environment. Phillip E. Pope, Purdue professor of forestry, is the program's new director. "The Sea Grant Program is modeled after the land-grant program," he said. "The vision of the Illinois-Indiana program is to address the environmental and water-quality concerns of the people and to preserve and enhance the resources of lower Lake Michigan and the inland waters of the upper Midwest." Research and extension activities of the Sea Grant Program focus on such topics as aquaculture, zebra mussels, water quality, business development, and recreation and tourism. There are 29 Sea Grant Programs nationwide, supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. CONTACT: Pope, (765) 494-3591.

Research focuses on cigarette smoke and birth defects

Dr. Stephen B. Hooser of Purdue's School of Veterinary Medicine is researching how a chemical found in cigarette smoke may cause birth defects by damaging male sperm. Although much is known about the effects on a fetus of cigarette smoking by the mother, very little is known about the effects of smoking by the father. Hooser is studying the effect of a chemical in cigarette smoke, Benzo(a)pyrene, a known carcinogen, on the DNA in male sperm. Using tissue from lab rats, the veterinarian is examining if the chemical binds with DNA and causes damage, and what damage that might cause to the fetus. Hooser's research is funded by a March of Dimes Basil O'Connor Starter Scholar Award, given each year to aid scientists in beginning independent research related to birth defects. CONTACT: Hooser, (765) 494-7440; Internet,

Purdue Solar Racing Club prepares to take its place in the sun

Purdue's Solar Racing Club hopes to outshine the competition when it enters its solar-powered car in a national race June 20-29. The Purdue group is one of 40 teams that will compete in Sunrayce 95, a biennial cross-country race of solar-powered cars built by college students from across North America. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, Sunrayce 95 begins in Indianapolis on June 20 and finishes eight days and 1,100 miles later at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo. In addition to cash prizes for first-, second- and third-place teams, awards will be presented for technical innovation, engineering excellence, artistic talent, teamwork and good sportsmanship. The solar-powered vehicles entered in Sunrayce 95 will be equipped with photovoltaics, or "solar cells," to transform sunlight into usable, nonpolluting electricity, which is stored in batteries in the cars. Purdue's entry is called the Heliophile, which is Greek for "sun lover." The teardrop-shaped body is about 18 feet long and 6 feet wide at the widest point. When completed, the car will weigh about 750 pounds, including driver, and will incorporate approximately 750 solar cells. CONTACT: Mike Gaines, Solar Racing Club president, (765) 494-9277; Internet,

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