Establishing a serum bank of samples from confirmed cysticercosis positive and negative pigs

This serum bank will serve as a platform for future development and validation of diagnostic tools that will allow for a quicker and more accurate diagnosis of porcine cysticercosis. The disease is zoonotic, meaning that it can be transmitted between humans and animals (pigs). The tapeworm, Taenia solium, causes taeniasis in people and can cause abdominal pain, diarrhoea, nausea and indigestion. The larval stage of the worm can infect both pigs and people. In people, the larval stage can become encysted in the brain and/or spinal cord, causing neuro-cysticercosis. This is an important cause of acquired epilepsy – a debilitating disease. The signs of the disease in humans include seizures, chronic headaches, dementia, and may result in death.

Letter from the PI: Introducing the ZooLink Suite of Projects

It’s a real pleasure to write the first “Letter from the PI” for the Zoonoses in Livestock in Kenya (ZooLinK) project, part of the Zoonoses in Emerging Livestock Systems programme, funded by the UK Research Councils (led by the BBSRC), UK DFID and UK DSTL.
Our project has been underway since 2015, engaged in planning and staffing, followed by refurbishing of our field lab and the commencement of field activities in Kenya. It’s satisfying, a year and a half in, to now be able to start reporting on how we are doing and what we are up to. While we have been and will continue to share updates through social media on a regular basis, our project newsletters serve to provide slightly more indepth ongoing reporting of our work. Newsletter articles will also appear on our project website as blog articles – we are active on social media both on the web at and through twitter @ZoonoticDisease, with #zels #zoolink.

Urban Zoo Team-Breaking the barriers

Proper planning and efficient communication has been the key to ensuring that everything is well coordinated. Team leaders (management or PI’s) from all the collaborating institutions hold fort-nightly teleconferences to update, consult and agree on a unified way of moving forward. It is a common practice for staff to communicate through emails, phone calls, skype and one on one talks with each other. The group has a “WhatsApp group chat” that is used to share updates/progress including photos of both the labs and fieldwork. It is also the easiest and simplest way of sharing information with the entire group. Our active website and the quarterly newsletters, publications and scientific conference presentations are some of the effective means used to ensure that the public is informed of the projects progress and findings.

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