Welcome to this blog – the first in a series that I will write over the next year. I am a veterinary epidemiologist based at SRUC in Inverness. Over the years my work has focused on a number of pathogens, but I admit to somewhat of an obsession for trypanosomes – parasitic organisms that cause serious disease in humans and animals, and the tsetse that carry them.
Nairobi is a city of juxtapositions, informal iron sheet housing sits in the shadow of expensive apartment buildings, expensive SUVs slow down to let cows, goats and the occasional pig to cross the road and international supermarkets share a street with informal street-food vendors.
This bustling city is an example of rapidly urbanising areas across the globe where a dynamic food system is striving to feed a growing population. There are many challenges in the formation of sustainable, secure and safe food systems and the concept of One Health is a tool that can help us in our quest to solve them.
I have always loved all kind of animals and, since I have a memory, my biggest dream was to become a vet and to help all the animals in any way I could. My dream came true in 2006, when I graduated from vet school. I practised as a vet for 8 years at my own small animals veterinary clinic, where I acquired a great interest in animal welfare. A few years later, I moved to Scotland to study a master in applied animal behaviour and animal welfare at The University of Edinburgh, which later led to my PhD.
I am, proudly, one of those persons who like to surprise others with rare facts that not many people know, so I enjoy enormously when people ask me about my PhD. What I enjoy the most is to see their faces when I tell them that I study dementia in cats. As a veterinary surgeon myself, I consider that I am not easily impressed, but I must confess that I was really shocked the first time I heard about aged cats getting Alzheimer’s disease-like symptoms. I thought that disease was uniquely human.
Ethiopia relies on livestock. They are crucial to the livelihoods of the majority of the country’s population and to the country’s economy. However, infectious diseases impact the health of livestock in Ethiopia, making antimicrobials vital in combating these diseases. Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) is recognised as a significant threat to global health. Estimates have highlighted that drug resistant infections will cause 10 million extra deaths a year and cost the global economy up to $100 trillion by 2050. The highest mortality due to AMR will be found on the African continent.
The exotic location of RVC Potters Bar has been the setting for my PPRV research since my first blog. My research trips to Tanzania and Glasgow, generously supported by The Soulsby Foundation, are scheduled for Spring 2019.
I’m a Lecturer in Virology at the Royal Veterinary College. I’ve been there for 5 years now and it’s a role in which I balance research and teaching. I always had a strong zoological interest and my realisation that vets could make broad impacts on global health was what drove me back from the Bedfordshire fields into a lab at Cambridge Vet School to do my PhD in molecular virology. There’s more on my career path in a Veterinary Record article ‘From herpetology to virology: how did that happen?’.
Welcome to this first blog post! I graduated with a veterinary degree from the University of Liverpool in 2005 and immediately spent time volunteering for a veterinary charity in Morocco. This experience provided me with an appreciation of the important role animals have in the livelihoods of communities in Africa. This was my first exposure to One Health – the recognition that the health of animals and the health of humans are intrinsically linked.