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Otago receives grant to track true toll of neglected deadly disease

Clocktower from the Leith

Friday 6 March 2015 1:25pm

Prof John Crump
Professor John Crump

The University of Otago announced today that it has received around NZD$320,000 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to coordinate efforts in determining the disease burden of typhoidal and non-typhoidal Salmonella disease, which are major causes of child death in sub-Saharan Africa.

Led by Professor John Crump, Co-Director of the University’s Centre for International Health, the project includes support for the collation and publication of data on the illness, disability, and death caused by a group of bacteria call non-typhoidal Salmonella in Africa.

Professor Crump will be heading this exciting initiative with Professor Robert Heyderman, Professor of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. The project will enlist the expertise of leaders in the field from across the world.

“In New Zealand we tend to think of Salmonella as a cause of diarrhoeal disease,” says Professor Crump.

“However, in sub-Saharan Africa non-typhoidal Salmonella is a leading cause of sepsis or blood poisoning. There, infants, malnourished children, children with recent malaria, and HIV-infected adolescents and adults are particularly susceptible. About 20% of those who get Salmonella blood poisoning will die.”

Despite its enormous toll, non-typhoidal Salmonella has ‘fallen through the cracks’ in global burden of disease estimates, he says.

Currently, disease burden estimates—key to allocating health resources for disease control—count the number of illnesses and deaths associated with diarrhea, but not the number of Salmonella sepsis illnesses and deaths.

The success of malaria control efforts in Africa over the past decade and expanded access to vaccines for other serious bacterial infections mean that Salmonella is the next obvious target for control, he says.

Professor Crump serves as a resource adviser on invasive Salmonella infections to the World Health Organization and as an expert on invasive Salmonella for the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation Global Burden of Disease Project.

“I am delighted that we have been chosen to lead this project and to coordinate the refinement of the burden of disease case for this important infection.”

For more information, contact:

Professor John Crump, Co-Director
Centre for International Health
University of Otago
Tel 64 3 479 9460

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