Thanks to our donors, collaborators, talented team, and stakeholders in Tanzania, HALI has been able to develop several different projects and activities focusing on research, health, outreach, education, service delivery, and development. All of these activities are hard to keep track of on this blog, so we developed a new website to better highlight our activities, news, and events. Please check out our new site haliproject.org, and our new blog at haliproject.org/blog.
We will maintain this WordPress site as the HALI archives, our original home and project foundation.
David and the HALI team
How does the HALI team collect information and samples for TB/BTB in the field?
The HALI project is working together with local hospitals, health clinics, local government officials, and pastoralists to determine the transmission ecology and epidemiology of Mycobacterium bovis in the four divisions namely Pawaga, Idodi, Kalenga and Ismani within Iringa rural district .In this area the project is working with seven (7) health facilities.
How do these health facilities work with the HALI project?
In each facility the project trained at least one clinician, nurse, laboratory technician and two village health workers (VHWs) about the project protocols, patient eligibility criteria, Good Clinical Practice (GCP) issues and consent / assent forms. The trained staff helps us to enroll TB patients at the rural clinics. Once an eligible patient is enrolled at the health facility, the VHW and people from the HALI project team up to trace him/her to the household level. There we screen the rest of the family members using questionnaires targeting the four symptoms of TB: night sweats, frequent coughing, progressive loss of weight, and swollen lymph nodes around the
neck region or inguinal area. If researchers find a contact has TB symptoms (active patient), they advise him/her to go to the nearby health facility to seek medical attention. Using the case household, we randomly select a nearby control household at the time of the visit
What else does the HALI field team do at the household?
Livestock testing via the TB skin test, household environmental sampling at the sleeping quarters, toilet facilities, food containers and leftovers, interviewing the family members, and identifying other risk factors.
Why all of these samples?
HALI project is looking at the role of each player in the epidemiology and transmission dynamics of M. bovis and M. tuberculosis between humans, their animals, and shared environments in a well-defined rural population of Tanzania. The project is also interested in understanding the microbiology of pathogen survival in soil, feces and water and the role of this reservoir in infectious disease transmission.
Field research is full of unanticipated opportunities and challenges. Weather, long travel distances, and even large living roadblocks frequently change our plans. HALI researchers studying TB transmission in rural communities were in the field until late Friday evening, so news from Goodluck will be posted early next week. While you’re waiting, we hope you enjoy a close look at local travel conditions!
Have you been wondering what’s happening with the HALI team? Are all of the staff members on a Zanzibar beach vacation? Has research at the human-animal-environment interface been forgotten?
Of course not! Though the beach does sound appealing, we’ve been busy working within and beyond the Ruaha ecosystem. HALI team members have been exploring primate capture and sampling techniques, collecting environmental and livestock specimens to search for TB, and learning how to assess the nutrition of women and children in pastoralist communities. Our posts have been delayed for a bit, but the HALI blog is back in action! We’ve taken the time to reconsider our approach to sharing stories, thoughts, and research updates. We have a wonderful and expanding team of Tanzanian researchers engaged in exciting One Health investigations, and from this point forward, you’ll be hearing their diverse perspectives. The fun starts tomorrow when we’ll be welcoming Dr. Goodluck Paul to the blog stage! Stay tuned for his insights on zoonotic TB and collaborations in the field.
While you’re waiting for tomorrow’s post, stop by our facebook page to see the latest photos from the field and learn the Swahili word of the week!
What is a human-animal interface?
An interface is the common boundary, or the place where two things touch or meet. The human-animal interface is the place where humans and animals come into contact. This interface can be in your home where you interact with your pets, in your fields where you work with livestock, or in the forest where you may encounter wildlife. The intensity of interaction at this interface can vary greatly. If you live in a city, you may have very little intensity of interaction at the human-animal interface, whereas a hunter’s interaction can be intense.
Why is this important? Approximately 75% of emerging infectious diseases are of animal origin, so both the type of interaction and the intensity of that interaction has implications for disease transmission and human-animal health.
In the Ruaha ecosystem, pastoralist communities interact intimately with their herds, and in many places live close to conservation areas where they (and their herds) are exposed to wild animals. HALI is working with pastoralist communities in Ruaha to better understand the context of the pastoralist human-animal interface to improve both human and animal health.
We are very excited to announce the release of the HALI project’s Wildlife Health Handbook – Kitabu cha Afya Wanyamapori in Kiswahili. In 2010-2011 HALI worked with the USFWS Wildlife Without Borders program and Ruaha National Park on an education and outreach program to help park rangers and local game scouts of the MBOMIPA community led Wildlife Management Areas. Emanating from this series of participatory training programs for park staff, rangers, and game scouts, HALI developed an interactive handbook to serve as a first reference guide to Recognizing, Investigating, and Reporting Diseases of Concern for Wildlife Conservation and Human Health.
While the English version of the Handbook has been available since last summer, the Kiswahli version took a little more time as we planned the translation with our great friend David Ngoseck and HALI team member and Tanzania National Parks Veterinarian Dr. Alex, and then reworked the layout and design at the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center with our fabulous publications coordinator and graphic designer Alison Kent. The Kiswahili handbook brings this resource to life for our Central and East African stakeholders, and for the majority of game scouts, rangers, hunters, and other people involved in high-risk interactions with wildlife in the area. The handbook is also a great primer in medical/veterinary Kiswahili for any folks out there interested in working with wildlife, animals, and health issues with East African communities. Just download both our English and Kiswahili versions and work through the content and exercises.
Thanks again to all those who have been involved in this project, especially Deana Clifford, Andrea Kulkarni (our talented illustrator), David Ngoseck Mollel, Alex Epaphras Muse, Alison Kent, the USFWS Wildlife Without Borders Program, Tanzania National Parks (special thanks to Ruaha National Park and David Meing’ataki), the UC Davis Wildlife Health Center team, and of course my HALI colleagues in Tanzania.
Trapping Roosters (otherwise known as roosting bats)
Today our PREDICT team held a call with the Chief Ecologist of the PREDICT team in Cameroon Matthew Lebreton. Matthew is an expert on bat capture and handling, with lots of experience doing disease surveillance work with bats from Australia to West Africa. While Harrison, Zika, and Muhiddin explained to Matthew some of the challenges they face capturing small insectivorous bats in the Ruaha ecosystem, Matthew replied “you guys are doing pretty well actually.” Small bats are difficult to capture. Plus, unlike in the forests of Cameroon and Gabon where researchers place capture nets called mist nets perpendicular to known bat flyways under a thick rainforest canopy, the Ruaha ecosystem is open-air. We all know firsthand from freeze tag that it’s easier to catch something in a confined area like an alley than in an open field.
To address this challenge, Harrison and Zika are trapping small bats (aka Roosters in HALI vernacular) in Ruaha by placing nets outside known roosting sites in the eaves of people’s homes (where the risk of bat-borne disease transmission is greatest), and at watering holes (like in the picture above) where bats and other animals may congregate together providing another interesting interface for disease transmission between bats and other wildlife and domestic animals like pastoralist herds and dogs. Matthew also suggested trying some trapping by hand (literally grabbing a bat with a heavily protected and gloved hand), and using another type of trap called a harp trap placed outside the roosting site.
Capturing small bats will continue to be difficult, especially since PREDICT’s bat surveillance is all new research for the Ruaha area. But who knows, maybe they’ll discover a new species! Muhiddin will be sharing some photos of the bat surveillance activities with us over the weekend, so when I receive them, I’ll post them to the HALI Facebook page.