Animals in society

Throughout the world, people and animals interact closely and impact each other’s health and wellbeing. Animals are an important part of people’s lives and livelihoods. Work in this programme integrates methods from the natural and social sciences to better understand health, disease and wellbeing at the human-animal interface.

Work in this programme is investigating:

  • Dog ownership and walking for better human health
  • The causes and impacts of dog aggression and dog bites
  • The causes and impacts of respiratory and other diseases in working horse in Ethiopia
  • Horse owners’ perceptions and attitudes toward laminitis and colic [Horse Health Study]
  • The impact of infectious diseases of chickens in small-holder farming systems in Ethiopia [CH4D].
  • See also
    - People & Animals & their Health and Society Group [PATHS].

Climate and health

Climate change is expected to cause new infectious diseases to emerge and many existing diseases to spread to new areas. Predicting what might happen is useful, allowing measures of mitigation or adaptation to be implemented in a timely manner. This prediction requires detailed understanding of how climate affects diseases today, and climate-disease models that can then provide insight to how things may look in the future.

Work in this programme is investigating:

  • The dynamics of bluetongue outbreaks under future conditions of climate and environment [LUCINDA]
  • The effect of climate change on livestock helminth parasites in Europe [GLOWORM]
  • The seasonal activity of ticks in England and Wales and raising public awareness on the risks of tick bites and tick-borne disease, specifically Lyme disease in the UK [Tick Activity Project]
  • The risk to UK horses from mosquito-borne viruses [Equine Mosquito study]
  • The use of climate data to forecast Lyme disease occurrence in the UK
  • The role of climate change in driving Japanese encephalitis to higher elevation in Asia (LUCINDA). 

Disease control

Antimicrobial agents and vaccines are key tools in the control of human and animals diseases. Resistance to antimicrobials poses a major threat to human and animal health. Effective use of new and existing vaccines requires detailed understanding of the vaccines and the population dynamics of the diseases they target.

Work in this theme is investigating:

  • The molecular epidemiology of antimicrobial resistance in humans and animals
  • The use of antimicrobials in veterinary practice
  • Development of vaccines and vaccination strategies parasitic infections of animals [Paravac]. 

Disease surveillance

Knowledge of the current and past occurrence of diseases is fundamental to controlling these diseases now and in the future. However, such information is often lacking and can be difficult and expensive to obtain. Research in this programme is developing and utilizing novel approaches to disease surveillance:

  • Developing novel real time surveillance strategies for human diarrhoeal disease [Integrate]
  • Improving and coordinating surveillance of neglected zoonoses [ICONZ]
  • Novel databases of all known pathogens of humans and livestock, including their geographic locations and linking to molecular, climatic and other data [ENHANCE]
  • Innovative approaches to monitoring illness and disease in our pets [SAVSNET].

e-epidemiology

The analysis of ‘big data’ – large comprehensive datasets or the secondary analysis of data from different sources – is set to revolutionize healthcare and epidemiology. At the same time, mathematical modelling is now widely regarded as a valuable tool to help understand and predict epidemics of infectious disease, and how best to control future outbreaks.

Work in this prorgamme includes:

  • Developing principled approaches to the quantitative analysis of big data
  • Early identification of outbreaks through national healthcare records
  • Measuring and understanding social encounter networks and infection patterns [FluScape] [SMART]
  • Predicting the impact of climate change on animal and human infections
  • Developing databases to improve knowledge of pathogens of humans and animals [ENHANCE] and to help tackle neglected zoonoses [ICONZ]. 

Vector-borne diseases

Diseases spread by insect vectors are important in the developing world, and increasingly threaten people and livestock in the developed world too. Several have emerged in temperate climates of North America and Europe in the last 15 years, including West Nile, dengue and Chikungunya (all spread by mosquitoes), bluetongue and Schmallenberg (spread by midges) and tick-borne encephalitis and Lyme disease (spread by ticks).

Work in this programme is investigating:

  • The midge-vectors of bluetongue in the UK [LUCINDA]
  • The role of midges in the epidemiology of Schmallenberg in the UK [LUCINDA]
  • The potential for British mosquitoes to transmit West Nile, Japanese encephalitis, dengue and Chikungunya viruses [LUCINDA]
  • The distribution of the tick vectors of Lyme disease in the UK.

Zoonosis epidemiology

Zoonoses (diseases transmitted between people and other animals) are an increasing threat to health in the UK and globally. It is estimate that around three-quarters of new infections are zoonotic. Work in this programme is investigating major zoonotic diseases in order to enable better control and prevention.

Work in this programme is investigating:

  • Campylobacter infection (a major cause of food-borne gut infection) in chickens (the key animal source) [CamCon] [CamChain], humans, and the modes of transmission to humans [ENIGMA]
  • Transmission of zoonotic diseases between humans and animals in Kenya [Urban Zoo]
  • Development of an effective national surveillance programme for zoonoses in Kenya [ZooLinK]
  • Bovine tuberculosis emergence, transmission and management at the ‘Cheshire edge’ [Cheshire Badger TB Survey].
  • See also
    - Zoonotic Diseases in People, Pigs and Poultry Group [ZIPPP]
    - Zoonotic and Emerging Diseases Group [ZOONOTIC]
    - HPRU in Emerging and Zoonotic Infections [HPRU EZI]
    - HPRU in Gastrointestinal Infections [HPRU GI].