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Clocktower. Thursday 22 May 2014 3:25pm

BZ Fieldwork
The cross-sectional field team testing livestock and their owners in a pastoralist area for the zoonotic infections Brucella, Coxiella burnetii, and Leptospira.
Credit: J. E. B Halliday, University of Glasgow

A coalition of researchers working in northern Tanzania, including leading University of Otago and Massey University experts, has been awarded three grants collectively worth around NZ$8.8 million to study zoonotic infectious diseases among poor livestock keepers.

Professor John Crump, McKinlay Professor of Global Health and Co-Director of the University of Otago Centre for International Health, is involved in all three projects. Massey researchers who are internationally leading experts in food safety and meat production will play a key role in one that focuses on foodborne disease spread risk during the transition from subsistence to commercial livestock production.

The overall programme 'Zoonoses in Emerging Livestock Systems' (ZELS), is funded by the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and UK Department for International Development (DfID), and seeks to improve the health of poor farmers and their livestock through integrated human, animal, and environmental health research, an approach often referred to as 'One Health.'

Professor Crump and Professor Ruth Zadoks (University of Glasgow) are scientific and administrative principal investigators respectively on one of the grants called HAZEL (Hazards Associated with Zoonotic Enteric pathogens in emerging Livestock systems). This project will study how bacteria that are leading causes of septicemia and diarrhea in sub-Saharan African countries flow through meat pathways from livestock, retail meat, and to humans.

The researchers will examine changing risks for such infections as animal husbandry transitions from subsistence to commercial livestock production.

“The project links our group to Professor Nigel French, Dr Jackie Benschop, and their colleagues at Massey University,” says Professor Crump.

“Professor French is an international expert in the field of food safety and Dr Benschop has extensive experience in meat production in New Zealand. Being able to connect their expertise to our collaborative work in Tanzania is an outstanding opportunity for New Zealand's exceptional expertise in livestock and food production to be applied to pressing health problems in low-resource areas.”

Professor Crump has collaborated with University of Glasgow, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre, and Duke University on zoonotic infections in northern Tanzania since 2009.

His primary collaborator at the University of Glasgow, Professor Sarah Cleaveland, who leads the largest of the three grants says, “the success of our northern Tanzania coalition in the ZELS programme reflects the importance of One Health research in Africa. By bringing together our collective expertise in animal, human, and environmental health we can work together to tackle a range of infectious diseases that are major causes of human illness and that contribute to human poverty through impacts on livestock survival and productivity.”

About the ZELS programme:

Reducing the risk to livestock and people

About Tanzania:

United Nations Tanzania country profile

For more information, contact:

Professor John Crump
McKinlay Professor of Global Health
Centre for International Health
University of Otago
Tel 64 3 479 9460

A list of Otago experts available for media comment is available elsewhere on this website.

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