US-Mexico Planning Visits and Pilot Project on the Social-Ecology of Leptospirosis in an Urban-Rural Gradient


Leptospirosis, an infection of importance for animal and public health, is caused by Leptospira bacteria that can be transmitted from animals to humans. It is responsible for reportedly one million human cases worldwide each year and, an undetermined, but potentially high deleterious impact on animal productivity. Environmental factors, poor living conditions, and occupations leading to contact with animals are among the determinants of infection. The proposed project will bring together investigators from the U.S. and Mexico to identify critical research questions on the combined influence of social, cultural, and ecological factors on Leptospira transmission and to develop follow-on innovative research investigations. The project and new collaborations will also represent the initial step of a larger, coordinated regional effort on leptospirosis research in Central America. Broader impacts include cross-training of U.S. and Mexican researchers, training opportunities for U.S. students, and assisting local community leaders and public/animal health authorities with disease control efforts. The mechanisms involved in the transmission of leptospirosis and the ecological and sociological factors that affect the likelihood of human and animal infection are poorly understood. A major factor is the lack of truly integrated and multi-disciplinary research. In Mexico, as in many other developing countries, leptospirosis is an under-studied disease. The main objectives of this project are to: 1) formally bring together a new multi-disciplinary team of U.S. and Mexican experts in the areas of epidemiology, ecology, mathematical modeling, environmental risk assessment, program assessment, and anthropology 2) generate follow-on research based on the evaluation of existing data and the main gaps and needs in the current knowledge of leptospirosis drivers and impact; and 3) summarize the status of leptospirosis in people, animals, and the environment, as well as social, demographic and ecological conditions, in the study areas of south-east Mexico city and Yucatan. The objectives will be accomplished through a series of visits by the U.S. researchers and students to plan, coordinate, and execute the project. This initial project will produce novel information on leptospirosis in Mexico and prepare the research team for further investigations on the ecological and sociological elements that influence human and animal infection and in a rural-urban gradient.


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