Thursday, January 23, 2014

Land Management on Interspecies Dynamics in Rural Kenya | MCubed Symposi...

"Three's Company" read the headline in the Magazine about SNRE, which regularly circulates on campus and to our alumnae. There we were: Me, Johannes Foufopoulos, and Joe Eisenberg, our arms around each other, smiling for the camera as if our work were not about one of the most infectious pathogens on the planet, spread through animal poop, or placentas, and known to cause heart failure and reproductive complications.

Public Health and Environmental collaborators; photo by Dave Brenner
This Thursday, we'll be explaining why we have felt smarter in conversation with one another about Q fever in Kenyan wildlife and livestock rich landscapes. Through a poster at the UM Symposium on MCubed initiatives, we'll show how we are learning to measure exposure to the disease in animals relied upon by rural Kenyans, and to model how transmission between those animals and humans likely happens, and might be prevented.

This is especially important to our Kenyan colleagues in rural health care centers, and at University of Nairobi, the Mpala Research Centre, the St. Louis Zoo's Institute for Conservation Medicine. These colleagues, along with Eric Fevre, and Salome Wanyoike, leaders in the field of zoonotic disease who are working with other East Africa experts to plan an upcoming regional conference,  we published an article in Ecohealth last year. The piece, entitled  featured the hard research, analysis, and writing work of talented UM graduate students as well as faculty.  Our data demonstrate that this pathogen is out there in rural Kenya, and merits closer attention. Here is a short video, in which we explain why.

Even in an age of Ebola, where spectacular and terribly virulent pathogens garner deep concern and media attention, we must not lose sight of those silent epidemics of pathogens that can be chronic, but extremely severe if left untreated. In modeling and monitoring them, we may find keys to understanding and interrupting the cycles of zoonotic disease that are among the most horrifying emblems of our interconnectedness as a species, and with others species on this planet.