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Emerging Infectious Diseases

The breadth of pathogens that threaten human, plant, and animal populations is constantly changing. At CIDD we have focused on both understanding the basic biology of newly emerging, and re-emerging, pathogens and developing surveillance systems to detect future threats.

The breadth of pathogens that threaten human, plant, and animal populations is constantly changing. At CIDD we have focused on both understanding the basic biology of newly emerging, and re-emerging, pathogens and developing surveillance systems to detect future threats.

Emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases continue to expand across the globe. The vast majority of these infections are zoonotic and the consequence of frequent interactions between humans,  wildlife, and domestic animals. Re-emergence has been often associated with resistance to treatments like drugs and vaccines. We look for emerging agents both in our backyards and across the globe, we investigate their biology and the many components that lead to their emergence and spread using traditional tools and innovative approaches.

Monitoring and mitigating infectious diseases in East Asia

Infectious disease surveillance in tropical countries is a critical component of global health.  Anti-malarial drug resistance has emerged in Southeast Asia on multiple occasions.  Avian influenza viruses have made the zoonotic leap to humans in Hong Kong, Vietnam and Indonesia where persistent circulation of human influenza and close animal-human contacts may create opportunities for zoonotic pathogens adapting to humans.  Understanding disease dynamics, designing appropriate surveillance schemes, and planning optimal responses in these parts of the world are central foci of CIDD researchers.

One of the most important baselines of infectious diseases in tropical contexts is to establish the total amount of disease circulating. To improve data volume in underserved settings this is best done through participatory epidemiology. The next step is to establish seroepidemiology, a monitoring tool crucial for validating other types of epidemiological inference as well as for determining how to improve attack-rate calculations in tropical contexts where it is not always known whether an epidemic occurred or not. Finally, simulation-based modeling applied to these epidemiological data can forecast long-term disease dynamics and evaluate intervention strategies. Researchers at CIDD have applied this approach to infectious diseases such as influenza and malaria.

Human migration and Infectious Diseases in Central and South America

Researchers at CIDD are working to build a pan America bio-surveillance network on common and novel infectious diseases that spread by individual migration across south and central America, and use innovative diagnostic strategies to study the epidemiology and molecular biology of these infections.

Human movements play a critical role in the spread of infectious diseases and the emergence of novel agents. Using a One-Health, pan regional approach CIDD researchers are collaborating with central and south America institutions to develop a trans-boundary disease surveillance network to monitor the spread on infectious diseases driven my human migration, and the vulnerability of local communities exposed to these transient events. The development of sustainable surveillance and rapid preparedness (quick analysis and response) through training and innovative approaches represents a key component of this project.

Novel viruses from poultry and waterfowl in India

Emerging and re-emerging respiratory diseases in poultry represent a serious risk for humans especially in densely populated countries that still rely on poultry raised in backyards or rudimental commercial settings. To address this issue, researchers from CIDD are involved in a partnership with domestic and international institutions to investigate the risk associated with zoonotic pathogens in domestic poultry and waterfowl in India.

The respiratory viromes of domestic poultry and migratory birds can provide unique information on the circulation and emergence of novel viruses and the risk for humans. Using a combination of field sampling and genomics we aim to assess the risk posed by especially dangerous pathogens while building sustainable capabilities for the monitoring and prevention of these infections.

Bushmeat Biohazard in Tanzania

Wild animal meat (bushmeat) can be a source of emerging zoonotic agents and lethal pathogens to humans. Researchers at CIDD have teamed up with colleagues at the N. Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology (NM-AIST, http://www.nm-aist.ac.tz/) to examine the risk of major zoonotic pathogens from bushmeat consumption in Tanzania and to develop local capability for their regular monitoring.

Wild animal meat (bushmeat) is a fundamental source of animal protein in many low and middle income countries but can also be the origin of dangerous pathogens for humans and uncontrolled disease outbreaks. An international team of researchers lead by CIDD faculty has been monitoring the distribution of select human and animal pathogens in bushmeat from different animal species and ecological regions of Tanzania to assess the public health risk and to develop local capability by training researchers in molecular and field techniques. Following our recent work, NM-AIST is now the designated laboratory for analysis of Anthrax in East Africa.

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