Evaluating Zoonotic Viral Sharing among Bats, Primates and People in a High Risk Transmission Interface In Southern Tanzania
Viruses traced to bats and primates have caused some of the most significant human Pandemics. As human populations rapidly expand into undeveloped areas, humans are living in closer contact with diverse wildlife, increasing the risk of disease transmission. In resource limited areas, bush meat hunting and consumption of forest plants shared with animals provide vital nutrients but may also put pathogens on the plate. Zoonotic viruses like Ebola and Marburg are diseases of concern in Africa, but little is understood about their natural history and transmission cycles, as well as their replication in their reservoir host species, which are believed to be African bat species. Bats, as well as their natural interaction with NHPs, humans, and other intermediary species are also poorly understood. It is paramount to better understand the circulating viruses in bats and non-human primates as well as to understand the interaction that humans have with these animals at forest interfaces.
The aim of this project is to assess and quantify the extent of viral sharing among bats, primates and people in a high-risk transmission interface in southern Tanzania. Understanding the natural ecology of emerging zoonotic viruses will facilitate control strategies to reduce human exposure and disease spread, a globally valuable outcome. In addition to enhancing in-country pathogen detection capability, the proposed research will build understanding of risk factors for transmission among bats, NHPs, and humans.