Profile of Theme
In marginalised communities, zoonotic diseases exert a heavy burden. Often, the burden is not due to the headline grabbing zoonoses about which much is said on the international stage. Rather, the important zoonoses are pathogens that cause a variety of endemic diseases including (but not confined to) brucellosis, bovine TB, Q fever, endemic Rift Valley fever, cysticercosis and zoonotic trypanosomiasis.
According to the World Health Organization, neglected diseases are those infectious diseases affecting the poorest populations often living in remote, rural areas, urban slums or in conflict zones. They are a symptom of poverty and disadvantage, and the diseases and the populations affected by them have a low profile and status in public health priorities, and suffer from a lack of reliable statistics on their basic epidemiology.
In order to better understand the impact of infectious diseases (including zoonotic diseases), it is essential to understand how and where they affect people. Over the last 20 years various tools have been developed to quantify both impact on a population and spatial extent of risk; these require sound data on incidence and clinical course. We are involved in various projects where we are developing additional tools to measure burden and risk and to apply existing tools in a range of settings. Our work on disease burden involves various projects which fall into two broad categories: field data gathering and population-based assessments for zoonotic diseases/neglected disease mainly in Africa and Asia; methodological developments and application of new methods using existing European datasets.