Agri-Health


Cattle coming in from the fields in the evening in Lhate Village, Chokwe, Mozambique (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).

The current coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has brought into sharp focus the interconnectedness of people, animals and the environment and how this can contribute to the spread of disease.

One Health is a concept that recognizes that the health and well-being of people is intricately linked to the health of animals and the environment. For this reason, disease outbreaks are best tackled through a One Health approach that harnesses the collaborative efforts of multiple disciplines and sectors. This is especially so for zoonotic diseases that are spread between animals and people. One Health is also useful for addressing other public health issues such as antimicrobial resistance and food safety. 

One Health is not a new concept, but it has become more important in recent years. This is because many factors have changed interactions between people, animals and the environment. These changes have led to the emergence and re-emergence of zoonotic diseases.

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) has an established record of collaborative One Health research in Africa and Southeast Asia. To mark One Health Day coming up next week on 3 November, we bring you highlights of some One Health research initiatives by ILRI and partners.

Ecosystem approaches to the better management of zoonotic emerging infectious diseases in Southeast Asia

This project worked directly with over 100 actors involved in managing zoonotic emerging infectious diseases across eight multi-disciplinary teams in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. The project increased the capacity of researchers and policy implementers to use One Health approaches for better control of zoonotic diseases. The project also produced various research outputs and increased understanding of the teams’ knowledge, attitudes and practice in relation to One Health and how this approach could lead to better health outcomes for people, animals and the environment.

One Health Regional Network for the Horn of Africa

This project aims to improve the health and wealth of the people of the Horn of Africa by developing a regional network of individuals and organizations that can undertake high quality research into the link between people’s health and that of livestock and the environment. The project builds capacity to undertake basic and applied research in One Health through training programs and research placements for both research and non-research staff from participating institutions.

One Health Research, Education and Outreach Centre in Africa

The One Health Research, Education and Outreach Centre in Africa was launched barely a week ago (on 22 October 2020) and is hosted at ILRI’s Nairobi campus. Its goal is to improve the health of humans, animals and ecosystems through capacity building, strengthening of local, regional and global networks and provision of evidence-based policy advice on One Health in sub-Saharan Africa. It has four research themes: control of neglected tropical zoonotic diseases; emerging infectious diseases; food safety and informal markets; and prevention and control of antimicrobial resistance. The centre is currently supporting the Government of Kenya’s national response to the COVID-19 pandemic through COVID-19 testing in ILRI’s bioscience laboratories.

One Health Units for Humans, Environment, Animals and Livelihoods

This project applies a One Health approach to enhance the well-being and resilience of vulnerable communities in pastoralist and agro-pastoralist areas of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. The project brings together professionals in human and animal health and the environment to achieve better access to human and veterinary health services and sustainable natural resource management.

Photo credit: Cattle coming in from the fields in the evening in Lhate Village, Chokwe, Mozambique (ILRI/Stevie Mann)

Open Access Week 2020 banner. Open with purpose: Taking action to build structural equity and inclusion. October 19-25.

International Open Access Week is an opportunity to raise awareness about open access publishing of research outputs to enable their universal online accessibility. Research outputs are wide-ranging and include articles in peer-reviewed journals, books, book chapters, conference proceedings, infographics, presentations, posters, reports, theses and videos.

The theme of this year’s Open Access Week (19–25 October) is ‘Open with purpose: taking action to build structural equity and inclusion’.

The Animal and Human Health program of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) seeks to effectively manage or eliminate livestock, zoonotic and foodborne diseases that matter to the poor through the generation and use of knowledge, technologies and products, leading to higher farmer incomes and better health and nutrition for consumers and livestock.

To celebrate Open Access Week 2020, we bring you a curated selection of recently published open access outputs authored and co-authored by scientists from ILRI’s Animal and Human Health program from across our research portfolio on antimicrobial resistance, food safety, One Health and zoonotic diseases.

Book chapters

  • Bett, B., Randolph, D. and McDermott, J. 2020. Africa’s growing risk of diseases that spread from animals to people. In: Swinnen, J. and McDermott, J. (eds), COVID-19 and global food security. Washington, D.C.: IFPRI. pp. 124–128. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/108990
  • Kang’ethe, E., Grace, D., Alonso, S., Lindahl, J., Mutua, F. and Haggblade, S. 2020. Food safety and public health implications of growing urban food markets. In: AGRA, Africa Agriculture Status Report. Feeding Africa’s cities: Opportunities, challenges, and policies for linking African farmers with growing urban food markets. Issue 8. Nairobi, Kenya: Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA): 101–119. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/109386

Peer-reviewed journal articles

  • Ferguson, A.W., Muloi, D., Ngatia, D.K., Kiongo, W., Kimuyu, D.M., Webala, P.W., Olum, M.O., Muturi, M., Thumbi, S.M., Woodroffe, R., Murugi, L., Fèvre, E.M., Murray, S. and Martins, D.J. 2020. Volunteer based approach to dog vaccination campaigns to eliminate human rabies: Lessons from Laikipia County, Kenya. PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases 14(7): e0008260. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/108692
  • Hu Suk Lee, Vuong Nghia Bui, Huyen Xuan Nguyen, Anh Ngoc Bui, Trung Duc Hoang, Hung Nguyen-Viet, Randolph, D.G. and Wieland, B. 2020. Seroprevalences of multi-pathogen and description of farm movement in pigs in two provinces in Vietnam. BMC Veterinary Research 16: 15. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/106618 
  • Kemboi, D.C., Antonissen, G., Ochieng, P.E., Croubels, S., Okoth, S., Kang’ethe, E.K., Faas, J., Lindahl, J.F. and Gathumbi, J.K. 2020. A review of the impact of mycotoxins on dairy cattle health: Challenges for food safety and dairy production in sub-Saharan Africa. Toxins 12(4): 222. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/108030
  • Kivali, V., Kiyong’a, A.N., Fyfe, J., Toye, P., Fèvre, E.M. and Cook, E.A.J. 2020. Spatial distribution of trypanosomes in cattle from western Kenya. Frontiers in Veterinary Science 7: 554. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/109133
  • Kiyong’a, A.N., Cook, E.A.J., Okba, N.M.A., Kivali, V., Reuksen, C., Haagmans, B.L. and Fèvre, E.M. 2020. Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) seropositive camel handlers in Kenya. Viruses 12(4): 396. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/107946
  • Long Pham-Thanh, Magnusson, U., Minh Can-Xuan, Hung Nguyen-Viet, Lundkvist, Å. and Lindahl, J. 2020. Livestock development in Hanoi city, Vietnam—Challenges and policies. Frontiers in Veterinary Science 7: 566. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/109404
  • Mitchell, M.E.V., Alders, R., Unger, F., Hung Nguyen-Viet, Trang Thi Huyen Le and Toribio, J.-A. 2020. The challenges of investigating antimicrobial resistance in Vietnam – what benefits does a One Health approach offer the animal and human health sectors? BMC Public Health 20: 213. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/107087 
  • Mutua, F., Sharma, G., Grace, D., Bandyopadhyay, S., Shome, B. and Lindahl, J. 2020. A review of animal health and drug use practices in India, and their possible link to antimicrobial resistance. Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control 9: 103. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/108734
  • Njenga, M.K., Ogolla, E., Thumbi, S.M., Ngere, I., Omulo, S., Muturi, M., Marwanga, D., Bitek, A., Bett, B., Widdowson, M.-A., Munyua, P. and Osoro, E.M. 2020. Comparison of knowledge, attitude, and practices of animal and human brucellosis between nomadic pastoralists and non-pastoralists in Kenya. BMC Public Health 20: 269. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/107419
  • Wernli, D., Jørgensen, P.S., Parmley, E.J., Troell, M., Majowicz, S., Harbarth, S., Léger, A., Lambraki, I., Graells, T., Henriksson, P.J.G., Carson, C., Cousins, M., Ståhlgren, G.S., Mohan, C.V., Simpson, A.J.H., Wieland, B., Pedersen, K., Schneider, A., Chandy, S.J., Wijayathilaka, T.P., Delamare-Deboutteville, J., Vila, J., Lundborg, C.S. and Pittet, D. 2020. Evidence for action: A One Health learning platform on interventions to tackle antimicrobial resistance. Lancet Infectious Diseases. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/109151

Infographic

  • Grace, D., Alonso, S., Mutua, F., Hoffmann, V., Lore, T. and Karugia, J. 2020. Food safety in Kenya: Focus on dairy. Infographic. Nairobi, Kenya: ILRI. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/109143

Presentations and posters

  • Diarra, S., Dione, M., Konkobo-Yameogo, C., Ilboudo, G., Roesel, K., Lallogo, V.R., Ouattara, L. and Knight-Jones, T. 2020. Value chain assessment of animal source foods and vegetables in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso: Food safety, quality and hygiene perceptions and practices. Presentation at a project webinar, 20 May 2020. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/108633
  • Hung Nguyen-Viet, Unger, F., Hu Suk Lee, Lindahl, J., Thang Nguyen, Bett, B., Fèvre, E., Tum, S., Sinh Dang Xuan, Moodley, A. and Grace, D. 2020. One Health research at the International Livestock Research Institute to address neglected tropical diseases, zoonoses and emerging infectious diseases in Southeast Asia. Presentation at a webinar by the One Health Collaborating Center Universitas Gadjah Mada, ‘World Zoonoses Day 2020: Lessons learned and future directions’, 7 July 2020. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/108791
  • Lindahl, J., Mutua, F. and Grace, D. 2020. Livestock interventions in low-income countries: A theory of change for improved nutrition. Poster presentation at the virtual 2020 Agriculture, Nutrition and Health (ANH) Academy Week research conference, 30 June–2 July 2020. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/108715
  • Wieland, B., Moodley, A., Mbatidde, I., Ndoboli, D., Tenhagen, B.-A., Roesler, U., Erechu, R., Litta-Mulondo, A., Kakooza, S., Waiswa, J. and Kankya, C. 2020. Mitigating agriculture-associated antimicrobial resistance in poultry value chains in Uganda. Poster presented at the virtual annual planning meeting of the Boosting Uganda’s Investment in Livestock Development (BUILD) project, 10–12 June 2020. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/108689

Project report

  • Blackmore, E., Guarín, A., Alonso, S., Grace, D. and Vorley, B. 2020. Informal milk markets in Kenya, Tanzania and Assam (India): An overview of their status, policy context, and opportunities for policy innovation to improve health and safety. ILRI Research Report. Nairobi, Kenya: ILRI. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/109797

Research briefs

  • Lam, S., Huyen Thi Thu Nguyen, Hung Nguyen-Viet and Unger, F. 2020. Mapping pathways toward safer pork in Vietnam. ILRI Research Brief 95. Nairobi, Kenya: ILRI. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/108768
  • Nguyen Thi Thinh, Grace, D., Pham Van Hung, Le Thi Thanh Huyen, Hung Nguyen Viet, Sinh Dang-Xuan, Nguyen Thi Duong Nga, Nguyen Thanh Luong, Nguyen Thi Thu Huyen, Tran Thi Bich Ngoc, Pham Duc Phuc and Unger, F. 2020. Food safety performance in key pork value chains in Vietnam. ILRI Research Brief 94. Nairobi, Kenya: ILRI. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/108320
  • Pham Duc Phuc, Toribio, J.-A., Ngo Hoang Tuan Hai, Sinh Dang-Xuan, Nguyen Thanh Luong, Langley, S.J., Dunham, J.G., Dinh Thanh Thuy, Dang Vu Hoa, Hung Nguyen-Viet, Grace, D. and Unger, F. 2020. Food safety risk communication and training need of stakeholders and consumers regarding pork value chain in Vietnam. ILRI Research Brief 96. Nairobi, Kenya: ILRI. https://hdl.handle.net/10568/108769

Videos

Photo credit: International Open Access Week website

A pastor and his dog, Yabello, Ethiopia (photo credit: ILRI/Camille Hanotte).

World Zoonoses Day is commemorated on 6 July every year to mark the day in 1885 when Louis Pasteur successfully administered the first vaccine against rabies, a deadly zoonotic disease. The day is also an occasion to raise awareness of the risk of zoonoses, infectious diseases that can be spread between animals and people.

On this year’s World Zoonoses Day, we highlight a new research study published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases (July 2020) that reports on the development, implementation and effectiveness of grassroots mass dog vaccination campaigns against rabies conducted in 2015, 2016 and 2017 in Laikipia County, Kenya.

According to the World Health Organization, rabies kills tens of thousands of people every year, mainly in Asia and Africa. Globally, rabies causes an estimated cost of US$ 8.6 billion per year. Dog bites are responsible for 99% of all cases of human rabies. Therefore, vaccinating dogs is the most cost-effective way to prevent rabies in people.

The research study found that while grassroots volunteer-based dog vaccination campaigns against rabies can be useful, these efforts need to be supported at a larger scale by county and national governments for a more sustainable approach towards eradicating the disease. Below is the author summary.

“Given the importance of mass vaccinations of domestic dogs towards eliminating human rabies in Africa and the site-specific challenges facing such campaigns, additional studies on the development and implementation of such efforts are needed.

One mechanism of mass vaccination lies in grassroots efforts that often begin at a very local scale and either develop into larger campaigns, remain local, or cease to persist past several years once interest and funding is exhausted.

Here, we discuss the development of a grassroots campaign in Laikipia County, Kenya from its local inception to its development into a county-wide rabies elimination effort.

Our results highlight challenges associated with achieving the targeted 70% coverage rate, including a need for consistent and systematic demographic monitoring of dog populations, limitations of the central point method, and logistical and financial challenges facing a volunteer-based effort.

Serious political commitment from both the local and national governments are necessary to take the budget beyond what a crowdfunded campaign can raise, including availability and access to quality dog rabies vaccines.

Without such outside support and substantial time to grow, grassroots campaigns might be better relegated to raising awareness and vaccinating dogs in small communities to protect those communities directly, without contributing to the broader ecosystem-wide transmission-stopping aim often sought by government human health and veterinary organizations.”

Citation

Ferguson, A.W., Muloi, D., Ngatia, D.K., Kiongo, W., Kimuyu, D.M., Webala, P.W., Olum, M.O., Muturi, M., Thumbi, S.M., Woodroffe, R., Murugi, L., Fèvre, E.M., Murray, S. and Martins, D.J. 2020. Volunteer based approach to dog vaccination campaigns to eliminate human rabies: Lessons from Laikipia County, Kenya. PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases 14(7): e0008260.

Photo credit: A pastor and his dog, Yabello, Ethiopia (ILRI/Camille Hanotte)

Farming scene in the highlands of Ethiopia (ILRI/Apollo Habtamu).

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has focused global attention on the interconnectedness of people, animals and the environment and how this links to the spread of zoonotic diseases, two postdoctoral scientists affiliated with the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) are among five recipients of this year’s Soulsby Fellowships, awarded to support early career researchers in human or veterinary medicine working on One Health projects. 

One Health can be defined as the collaborative efforts of multiple disciplines working locally, nationally and globally to attain optimal health for people, animals and the environment.

The two postdoctoral scientists, Lisa Cavalerie from the University of Liverpool and Mark Nanyingi from the University of Liverpool and the University of Nairobi, are collaborators in the One Health Regional Network for the Horn of Africa project, a multidisciplinary international partnership that is working to improve the health and wealth of people in the Horn of Africa through One Health research.

Lisa Cavalerie, a veterinary epidemiologist, will study the benefits and risks of livestock ownership to maternal health in women in Ethiopia. She says: ‘The aim of the study will be to develop sustainable livestock health management to improve both maternal and child health.’

Mark Nanyingi, an infectious disease epidemiologist, will investigate the presence of Rift Valley fever virus in people, livestock and mosquitoes in Kenya. He aims to develop a human-animal integrated surveillance system which will inform national policy- and decision-making in the event of outbreaks. ‘This study will enhance our understanding of the geographical risk, distribution and genetic diversity of the virus,’ says Nanyingi.

We congratulate them on their awards and wish them all the best as they undertake their research projects.

Read more about the Soulsby Foundation and the other 2020 Soulsby Fellows.

Photo credit: Farming scene in the highlands of Ethiopia (ILRI/Apollo Habtamu)

Roadside market. Mozambique, Angonia province (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).

As the impacts of COVID-19 spread across the globe, the virus threatens more than health systems worldwide. It also poses serious risks to food security, local businesses, national economies and hard-fought progress by stakeholders at all levels towards the Sustainable Development Goals. The global response to the pandemic must be swift and science-based, harnessing knowledge for emergency response, recovery and resilience.

Research leaders in health and agriculture have launched a new COVID-19 Hub to consolidate existing scientific evidence and help support response, recovery and resilience measures in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. As United Nations Secretary General António Guterres warned recently, immediate action on food systems is needed to prevent a global food emergency that could have long-term health effects.

The CGIAR COVID-19 Hub, coordinated by CGIAR, the world’s largest publicly funded agricultural research network, brings together the latest science on agriculture and health to inform a research-based response to the pandemic.

The International Livestock Research Institute joins the International Food Policy Research Institute, the CGIAR System Organization and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine as co-implementers of the CGIAR COVID-19 Hub.

Hosted by the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health, the Hub provides a coordinated research response to the pandemic, convening researchers, funders and key stakeholders.

It focuses on supporting national response and recovery work across CGIAR research themes through the response, recovery and resilience phases of the pandemic, with work from across CGIAR’s global network of 14 research centres and 15 research programs and platforms, in close collaboration with other research organizations, policymakers, non-governmental organizations and many other stakeholders.

Photo credit: Fresh produce on sale at a roadside market in Angonia Province, Mozambique (ILRI/Stevie Mann)

A4NH 2019 annual report cover

The CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH) has just released its 2019 annual report, highlighting activities and accomplishments from its five research flagships, cross-cutting work on gender and equity, and partnerships that have led to research outcomes in over 20 countries.

These include:

  • empowering stakeholders at national level to build food systems that support healthier diets;
  • generating research evidence on the nutritional and health benefits of biofortification;
  • supporting international developments in food safety with quality research and engagement;
  • engaging in global conversations on food systems, nutrition and diets; and
  • linking research and policy to achieve results on critical zoonotic diseases.

Access the A4NH 2019 annual report or read the interactive online summary.

Photo credit: International Food Policy Research Institute

Cows walk along an irrigation canal in Niolo, Mali (photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann).

As part of a special COVID-19 series by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Bernard Bett and Delia Randolph of the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and John McDermott of IFPRI write on the growing risk in Africa of pathogens that spread from animals to people and how we can learn from past epidemics to improve preparedness and response.

In their article, the scientists discuss the evolving patterns of emergence and spread of zoonotic pathogens, factors that might influence the spread of emerging zoonotic pathogens and the opportunities for controlling emerging infectious diseases in Africa. 

They write: “The record thus far on COVID-19 and on past disease outbreaks shows that early, effective and sustained response is essential to winning the battle over these diseases. Innovative use of information and communication tools and platforms and engagement of local communities are crucial to improved disease surveillance and effective response. Building these systems requires demand from the public and commitment from policymakers and investors.” 

Read the full article, Africa’s growing risk of diseases that spread from animals to people, originally posted on the IFPRI website.

Bernard Bett is a senior scientist with ILRI’s Animal and Human Health program, Delia Randolph is the co-leader of ILRI’s Animal and Human Health program and John McDermott is the director of the CGIAR Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health. The analysis and opinions expressed in the article are of the authors alone.

Photo credit: Cows walk along an irrigation canal in Niolo, Mali (ILRI/Mann)

A local cattle owner walks his cattle on a rainy day in Hung Yen province, Vietnam (photo credit: ILRI/Nguyen Ngoc Huyen).

The One Health concept promotes the enhancement of human, animal and ecosystem health through multi-sectoral governance support and policies to combat health security threats.

In Vietnam, antimicrobial resistance in animal and human health settings poses a significant threat, but one that could be minimised by adopting a One Health approach to antimicrobial resistance surveillance.

Vietnam is a potential hotspot for the emergence of antimicrobial resistance due to the high burden of infectious diseases that are directly transmissible and that are foodborne, coupled with limited enforcement of regulations to penalise non-compliance, and the relatively unregulated access to antimicrobials for humans and high antimicrobial usage for livestock.

To advance understanding of the willingness and abilities of the human and animal health sectors to investigate antimicrobial resistance through a One Health approach, a recent study published in BMC Public Health (February 2020) explored the perceptions and experiences of those tasked with investigating antimicrobial resistance in Vietnam, and the benefits a multi-sectoral approach offers.

The study used qualitative methods to provide key informants’ perspectives from the animal and human health sectors. Two scenarios of foodborne antimicrobial resistance bacteria found within the pork value chain were used as case studies to investigate challenges and opportunities for improving collaboration across different stakeholders and to understand benefits offered by a One Health approach surveillance system.

Fifteen semi-structured interviews with 11 participants from the animal and six from the human health sectors at the central level in Hanoi and the provincial level in Thai Nguyen were conducted.

Eight themes emerged from the transcripts of the interviews. From the participants’ perspectives on the benefits of a One Health approach: (1) communication and multi-sectoral collaboration, (2) building comprehensive knowledge and (3) improving likelihood of success. Five themes emerged from participants’ views of the challenges to investigate antimicrobial resistance: (4) diagnostic capacity, (5) availability and access to antibiotics, (6) tracing ability within the Vietnamese food chain, (7) personal benefits and (8) Managing the system.

The findings of the study suggest that there is potential to strengthen multi-sectoral collaboration between the animal and human health sectors in Vietnam by building on existing informal networks.

Based on these results, the authors of the study recommend an inclusive approach to multi-sectoral communication supported by government network activities to facilitate partnerships and create cross-disciplinary awareness and participation.

The themes relating to diagnostic capacity show that both the animal and human health sectors face challenges in carrying out investigations on antimicrobial resistance although based on the results, there is a greater need to strengthen the animal health sector.

Citation
Mitchell, M.E.V., Alders, R., Unger, F., Hung Nguyen-Viet, Trang Thi Huyen Le and Toribio, J.-A. 2020. The challenges of investigating antimicrobial resistance in Vietnam – what benefits does a One Health approach offer the animal and human health sectors? BMC Public Health 20: 213.

Photo credit: A local cattle owner walks his cattle on a rainy day in Hung Yen province, Vietnam (ILRI/Nguyen Ngoc Huyen)

Women waiting to fetch water as cattle drink from a water pan in Taita Taveta, Kenya (photo credit: ILRI/ Juliet Kariuki)

Ecohealth approaches are designed to promote the health of people, animals and ecosystems with attention to social and ecological justice, sustainability and the relationships required to achieve a healthy future. Ecohealth approaches rely on systems thinking and the complementary efforts of transdisciplinary teams.

For the last 15 years, the global ecohealth community has been bringing together individuals and organizations to discuss ecohealth approaches. This year, the eighth biennial ecohealth conference will be held in Durban, South Africa on 22–26 June 2020. 

Participants at ecohealth 2020 are expected to include researchers, policymakers, community leaders, postgraduate students, government departments and non-governmental organizations working on ecohealth approaches towards sustainable management of the health of people, animals and ecosystems.

The organizers of the conference have extended the deadline for the submission of abstracts to 25 March 2020

To register and submit an abstract, please visit https://ecohealth2020.co.za.

Photo credit: Women waiting to fetch water as cattle drink from a water pan in Taita Taveta, Kenya (ILRI/ Juliet Kariuki)

Crop-livestock systems in Vietnam (photo credit: ILRI/Hung Nguyen-Viet).

Dengue fever is a mosquito-borne viral disease that commonly occurs in warm, tropical climates. It is characterized by high fever and flu-like symptoms that can last for up to one week. In a small proportion of cases, severe dengue may occur, leading to bleeding and low blood pressure. There is no specific treatment for infection but medication can be taken to control symptoms.

Climate change and rapid unplanned urbanization are among the factors that have brought people into more frequent contact with the vectors, thus contributing to further spread of disease.

According to the World Health Organization, the global incidence of dengue has risen dramatically in recent decades, with an estimated 390 million dengue infections annually.

Vietnam is one of at least 100 countries where the disease is now endemic. Dengue infection in Vietnam is unstable but peaks from June to October annually.

As part of efforts to curb the spread of dengue in Vietnam, research efforts are being undertaken to develop tools that will enable timely detection and control of the disease. One such research study recently examined seasonal trends of dengue in Vietnam and used the data to develop a statistical model to forecast the incidence of the disease.

The study, published in PLOS ONE (27 Nov 2019), was carried out by a team of researchers from the International Livestock Research Institute and Vietnamese partners from Hanoi University of Public Health, the Institute of Meteorology, Hydrology and Climate Change, the Ministry of Health and the National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology.

To develop the statistical risk forecasting model, the researchers used dengue surveillance data that had been collected by health centres in Vietnam’s 63 provinces between 2001 and 2012. In addition, they obtained monthly meteorological data from the Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology and Climate Change. Land cover data were obtained from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer website of the United States National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

The data were also used to develop risk maps of dengue incidence showing the distribution of the incidence of infection in the wet and dry seasons. The researchers are optimistic that with these new risk-based forecasting tools, policymakers and planners in Vietnam will be better able to predict dengue incidence in the country and thus respond in a timely manner to effectively control the disease.

Citation
Bett, B., Grace, D., Hu Suk Lee, Lindahl, J., Hung Nguyen-Viet, Phuc Pham-Duc, Nguyen Huu Quyen, Tran Anh Tu, Tran Dac Phu, Dang Quang Tan and Vu Sinh Nam. 2019. Spatiotemporal analysis of historical records (2001–2012) on dengue fever in Vietnam and development of a statistical model for forecasting risk. PLOS ONE 14(11): e0224353.

Photo credit: Crop-livestock systems in Vietnam (ILRI/Hung Nguyen)

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