Mapping the links between animal, human and eco health
Livestock are central to the livelihoods and cultures of Kenyan pastoralists, and meat and dairy are their staples. The country is prone to Rift Valley fever, a zoonotic disease passed between livestock and humans. During outbreaks, farmers and others in the livestock supply chain can suffer huge lossesBernard Bett/International Livestock Research Institute
Focus groups and citizen science tease out how interactions between wildlife, livestock, people and the environment are changing, and how these shifts affect the disease transmission, health, ecosystems and povertySalome Wanyoike/International Livestock Research Institute
In Ghana, bats are often hunted for bushmeat. This ranges from large-scale hunts of big bat species, to children shooting down smaller species with catapults.Hunters, who often handle dead and bloodied bats with their bare hands, are one of the most at-risk groups for bat-borne diseaseKofi Amponseh Mensah/University of Ghana
Fruit bats host henipaviruses, which cause deadly encephalitic disease in people. Fieldwork in Ghana focused on three sites: a hospital in Accra; Tano Sacred Grove; and Golokuati, where bats live in peoples homes. Hunters, fruit farmers, traders and those living close to roosts were found to be most at riskKofi Amponseh Mensah/University of Ghana
Scientists take a blood sample. The fieldwork teams made up of ecologists, veterinary and social scientists studied bat dynamics, infection, and points of human interaction, and human perceptions of bats and disease risk. The findings then help shape appropriate policies and public health campaignsKofi Amponseh Mensah/University of Ghana
Scientists take a sample of a dogs blood in Ghana. Dogs can be reservoirs for rabies and vector-borne diseases, and transmit these to humans. Globally rabies kills around 60,000 people each year one person every ten minutesKofi Amponseh Mensah/University of Ghana
Scientists take a blood sample from a goat in the Laungwa valley, Zambia. Researchers were investigating trypanosomiasis and tick-borne pathogens in livestock. Livestock are being kept in significant numbers for the first time in Luangwa and are a reservoir for the trypanosome causing human sleeping sicknessNeil Anderson/University of Edinburgh
Preservation of a blood sample on a Whatman FTA Card. This is a robust technique to preserve blood samples under field conditions without the need for refrigeration. Samples can be analysed using highly accurate molecular techniques for diagnosis, greatly improving our ability to diagnose diseasesNeil Anderson/University of Edinburgh
Health workers prepare traps for the Mastomys natalensis rodents that carry Lassa virus. The virus is found in West Africa, and if transmitted to humans causes Lassa fever, an acute haemorrhagic infection. Fieldwork focused on how Lassa fever dynamics are shaped by changes in social dynamics, land use and climateGianni Lo Iacono /University of Cambridge
Mastomys were captured in nearly half the houses sampled. Research revealed that poorer households living in houses made of mud and stick or mud block were more likely to have them, and they particularly thrive in domestic settings or sites of intense human activity, like vegetable gardens where women tend to workLina Moses/Tulane University
The One Health approach takes as its starting point a focus on the fundamental interconnectedness of animal, human and environmental health and systems. It supports research partnerships that span sectors and disciplines — a rare thing until not long ago — in the pursuit of policies and action that balance the needs of all three.
Research on bat-borne disease, for example, would bring ecologists and veterinary, medical and social scientists together to look at bat ecology and infection, and how shifting social and livelihood patterns might increase disease risk, in order to work out how to reduce disease without jeopardising livelihoods and conservation.
This balancing act is far from straightforward. As Melissa Leach, director of the Institute of Development Studies, said at the same symposium: “One Health is not a matter of neatly putting things together — we’ve seen synergies but also conflicts and trade-offs.” But in a world of escalating population growth, social flux, climate change and a growing zoonotic disease threat, research and interventions of this kind are absolutely vital, Leach said.
The photographs in this gallery are drawn from One Health research projects across five African countries, supported by DDDAC, a network of 20 institutions and researchers from across Africa, Europe and the United States.