Researchers at the Nairobi, Kenya-based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and at the University of Bonn Medical Center in Germany have found evidence of MERS-CoV antibodies in archived blood samples from two of 1,122 Kenyan livestock handlers, collected between 2013 and 2014.
The following excerpt is the beginning of a candid and thoughtful article by Ian Scoones, of the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), at Sussex University, about an international symposium, One Health for the Real World: zoonoses, ecosystems and wellbeing, that took place at the Zoological Society of London last week (17–18 Mar 2016).
Joerg Jores, a molecular biologist at the Nairobi animal health laboratories of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) who is working to develop diagnostic assays and vaccines against livestock diseases caused by Mycoplasma mycoides is also investigating the epidemiology of MERS-CoV in camel populations in Kenya and participated in the recent FAO-hosted discussions.
One Health for the Real World: zoonoses, ecosystems and wellbeing
17–18 Mar 2016
This symposium will bring together leading experts from different fields to discuss the topic ‘Healthy ecosystems, healthy people’.
African camels could hold important clues to controlling the potential spread of a respiratory disease transmitted by the animals. For many years African camels have lived with the disease and the risk of it spreading to humans is still low. But more research is necessary to understand the disease better. This is even more important given the confirmation that the chains of transmission of the human Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) infection originated from contact with camels.
‘Members of communities that live in forests and depend on hunting for survival have been reported to be at risk because bush meat, widely used as their source of food, can be a source of deadly pathogens from wild animals to humans. The Arusha-based, Nelson Mandela University and the US Centre[s] for Disease Control have now entered into a project aimed at curbing the transmission of diseases from wild animals to human beings.’
The Urban Zoo project is visiting 99 households across Nairobi, rich and poor, with livestock and without. They’re taking samples from people, their animals, and whatever wildlife they can find nearby (and catch): storks, mice, bats, et cetera. They’re sampling the ground around homes, yards and livestock pens with white paper booties. ‘The aim, says University of Liverpool veterinarian Judy Bettridge, is “to try and understand on a small scale how those bacteria are shared” among each household’s people, livestock and environment. “And then when we scale it up, are the bacteria here being shared with the household that’s 50 meters over there? Or 100 meters over there? So, how far can they actually spread?” . . .
An Urban Zoo research project in Kenya (more formally called ‘Epidemiology, Ecology and Socio‐Economics of Disease Emergence in Nairobi’) is tracking pathogen flows in and around Kenya’s capital city.
Developing-country livestock keepers need more and better drugs to keep their animals alive and productive, and there are increasing numbers of livestock in the South, where there is increasing use of antimicrobial drugs, and poor livestock keepers will be hurt the most by development in pathogens of antimicrobial resistance. So what’s needed to avoid ‘super bugs’ arising? A new PNAS paper has this to say.
‘. . . According to studies by scientists from the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), informal markets . . . provide essential sources of food and income for millions of poor, with milk and meat that is often safer than supermarkets. Blunt crack-downs on informal milk and meat sellers that are a critical source of food and income for millions of people are not the solution,” Delia Grace, ILRI’s program leader for food Safety and Zoonoses, said during the launch of the study in Nairobi on Tuesday.