What is One Health?
The increasing burden of our current complex health issues; emerging and re-emerging infections, antimicrobial resistance, and lifestyle-related problems have established that human health, animal health, and environmental factors are intrinsically dependent on each other. “Health” as a concept should not be confined to one sector working alone. One Health: “ An approach which involves the multi-sectoral collaboration of the human health, animal health, wildlife and environment sectors among other stakeholders communicate and work together to achieve better public health outcomes”.
About The Centre
One Health Centre has been committed to research and services aimed at improving the health status of humans and animals using a One Health approach. One Health Centre grew out of a molecular laboratory’s deep commitment to understanding zoonotic diseases at human-livestock-wildlife interphase andpredisposing factors inclusive of cultural behavior and practices. Kenya is at risk from zoonotic and other transboundary diseases due to her geographical location, growing human population, close livestockwildlife-human interactions, and porous borders among other factors. The One Health Center aims at addressing these complex problems that impact the health, biodiversity and practices, and culture of our communities by conducting extensive research by utilizing different expertise and techniques from sample collection and handling, epidemiology, modeling, bioinformatics, molecular and serology. One Health Centre is home to many programs, partnerships, and initiatives within the Institute of Primate Research and beyond.
HEAD OF DEPARTMENT
Ph.D., MSc. BVM
Dr. Kamau is the Head of One Health Centre and a Senior Research Scientist at the Institute of Primate Research in Kenya. He is a veterinarian with a PhD in Infectious Diseases received from Hokkaido University International Institute of Zoonoses Control in Japan https://www.czc.hokudai.ac.jp/en/, studying the functional analysis of putative Theileria Orientalis hemolysins and its molecular epidemiology. He has also received a postgraduate diploma in zoonoses control from the same University in Japan with a dissertation on Molecular Epidemiology of Avian Influenza in Asia. Following completion of his Ph.D. He proceeded to a one-year post-doctoral program at the University KwaZulu-Natal, Durban South Africa where he focused on host immune responses. He has an affiliation with AFROHUN, the One Health Workforce, and the University of Nairobi. His research interests include emerging infectious diseases, and pathogen discovery and diagnostics. With extensive experience in infectious diseases and One Health, his research continues to focus on emerging infectious diseases – especially those zoonotic in nature that may spill over at high-risk human-livestock-wildlife interfaces.
The Centre has four thematic areas:
Infectious disease, Disease Surveillance, and Pathogen Discovery
- Predict Kenya, a USAID grant project, with the engagement of interdisciplinary partners, was geared towards understanding how infectious diseases were transmitted from animals to humans.The goal of PREDICT/Kenya was to address growing needs for public health security and capacity; strengthen the capacity for rapid detection and response to viral pathogens as well as identify zoonotic infectious diseases before they pose a pandemic threat and be able to communicate this information between health professionals(animal and human). This was accomplished by implementing an active surveillance project at high-risk human-animal-environment interfaces to detect as well we mitigate potential zoonotic threats before a spillover to human communities. In addition, behavioral data was gathered from the local communities at risk of exposure due to their close contact with wildlife and domestic animals to better understand and characterize the potential for zoonotic viral exposure.
Some of our key achievements
• One novel coronavirus and one previously detected coronavirus were detected in bats.
• Trained individuals in One Health field and laboratory skills, capacity strengthening efforts with in-country partner institutions, education and professional development of students as well as empowerment of local communities to make better health decisions to better their community.
• We played a key role in the development of Kenya’s One Health National Strategic Plan (2017-2022) in collaboration with the government and academic partners. This allows for the identification of targets for intervention and development of effective disease prevention and control strategies at local, regional, and national scales.
2. NRF grant project. Project title: Whole-genome sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 and other emerging coronaviruses in humans, bats, and non-human primates from COVID-19 hotspot counties in Kenya and in silico development of COVID-19 vaccine candidates. It is a multiinstitutional project with aim of unraveling coronaviruses in different hosts, developing a vaccine candidate, and training.
3. Molecular characterization of tick-borne diseases with a keen interest in Crimean Congo hemorrhagic fever in wildlife and livestock at human-animal-wildlife interphase.
4. Sero-prevalence of brucellosis and MERS-COV in livestock reared by pastoralist communities.
OUR RESEARCH PUBLICATIONS
Microbiome and Antimicrobial Resistance
A microbiome is a collection of microorganisms (fungi, bacteria, and viruses) and their genes that exist in a particular environment. The microbiome is dynamic and changes with the different factors such as early development, environmental, land-use changes, diet, use of antibiotics, and response to diseases. These microbes can influence health in many ways and even how we react to certain environmental substances.
At One Health Centre, we are seeking to uncover what constitutes the microbiome in animals, vectors, and the environment at the human-livestock-wildlife interphase. We will be looking at how diet, land-use changes, environmental factors, animal movement, and antimicrobial resistance affects changes in the microbiota of food-producing animals, vectors, and wildlife and, how these changes are linked to health outcomes. Currently, we are working on understanding microbiome diversity and how the structure of microbiome communities in various tick species and non-human primates (NHPs) across East African ecologies within wildlife populations and at livestock-human interface influencing tick-borne pathogen distribution and individual health, immune function, disease risk and survival within and among NHPs.
Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has intensified in an inconceivable and distressing manner in human, agriculture, and veterinary medicine. If appropriate antimicrobial stewardship is not implemented effectively, we are faced with limited options in combating most of the infections.
The population of Kenya’s livestock has increased exponentially in order to meet the growing demand of the human population due to climate change, which drives further changes in land use and farming practices.
At One Health Centre, we are addressing antimicrobial resistance by conducting surveillance of
antimicrobial usage and risk factors associated with unregulated antimicrobial usage among the pastoralist communities and conservancies/ranches. Identifying these factors driving AMR emergence in the
communities will help us to identify and design interventions that are most likely to have an impact. We are also investigating antimicrobial resistance genes harbored in the microbiome of food-producing animals and the environment and establishing their similarity to clinically significant AMR genes affecting human health. Our research focuses on the characterization of microbiomes and their associated resistance genes of public health importance (zoonotic) especially those found at the human-livestock-wildlife interface.
Molecular and Sero-Diagnostics
In the horn of Africa, we continue to experience limitations in the quick and accurate diagnosis of infectious diseases. This is compounded with poor expensive sampling reagents, and fragile unreliable supply chains limiting both diagnosis and research. At One Health Centre, we seek to utilize biotechnology tools that harness biomolecular and cellular processes to locally produce products and technologies that respond to emerging disease burdens and sustainably maintain research capacity. The projects are focusing the development of simple rapid diagnostic kits for detecting EIDs of public health importance, especially those that overlap between the human and animal interphase. In addition, the lab is involved in the production of locally made reagents and consumables.
Global Epidemiology, Modelling, and Informatics
Scientists have practiced separately animal and human medicines since the 1800s. In recent years, One Health Concept has gained momentous recognition in public health and animal health communities.
Similarly, the use of various types of epidemiology to establish 1) the origin of diseases 2) the control of known or unknown diseases 3) the gathering of ecological and historical information about a disease 4) Disease control policies, and 5) the economic impact of a disease have been widely investigated and applied.
While Epidemiological investigations provide necessary data about epidemiological systems, it takes mathematical analytics, modelers and informaticians to deduce information from such systems that guide key objectives in the health sector. The laboratory utilizes Unix/Linux OS& command-line skills (Shell), R&R studio, Python, Nextflow pipelines such as viralrecon, and computational software/tools such as Geneious, MegaX, ngs_mapper, IGV, and many others in performing multiple sequence alignment,
phylogenetic analysis, variant calling, genome assembly and de novo assembly of sequenced etiology agents of infectious zoonotic diseases.
2. Mpala Research Centre (MRC) https://mpala.org/
3. Wildlife Research Training Institute (WRTI) https://wrti.go.ke/
4. Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). http://www.kws.go.ke/
5. Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) https://www.kemri.go.ke/
6. Smithsonian, Global Health Program https://nationalzoo.si.edu/global-health-program
7. Henry Jackson Foundation (HJF) https://www.hjf.org/
8. The University of Nairobi, Centre for Epidemiological, Modelling and Analytics (CEMA)
9. Columbia University, Center for Infection and Immunity
10. Princeton University https://eeb.princeton.edu/people/julien-ayroles
11. George Mason University https://chhs.gmu.edu/profiles/mvonfric
12. Washington State University, Global Health Program, USA https://globalhealth.wsu.edu/global-
13. The University of California Davis, One Health Institute, USA https://ohi.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/
14. KU Leuven, Belgium
15. Arizona State University, Center for Evolution and Medicine- https://stone.lab.asu.edu/
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