About Zoonosis

Zoonoses are diseases that are naturally transmitted from animals and humans and are an increasing threat to human medicine, veterinary medicine and, in many cases, to the agricultural economy.

The major research focuses of our Zoonosis group are antibiotic usage and resistance in food animal production chains and zoonotic pathogens such as Streptococcus suis, non typhoid Salmonella, E. coli and parasites.

Antibiotic resistance

Antibiotic resistance is one of the most important public health issues of our time, since it has drastic consequences for treatment of human diseases in hospital and community settings, as well as in veterinary medicine. Addressing this problem requires a One Health approach. Indiscriminate use of antibiotics in animal production is contributing to the problem worldwide. Selection for antibiotic resistance is not only likely to occur in the animals themselves, but also in the environment where antibiotics are discharged. In Viet Nam, antibiotic resistance represents a real challenge for the veterinary and public health authorities.

What we’re doing to reduce antibiotic resistance

We are currently carrying out research to determine the impact of antimicrobial usage on antibiotic resistance in poultry and pig production. Such studies will enable us to:

  1. Investigate the epidemiology of antibiotic resistance in animal populations, in the environment, and its impact on human populations (such as in our projects: SCENERI, VIPARC and HECTOR); and
  2. Set the basis for further interventions that may help reduce antimicrobial use when it is not necessary in animal production (VIPARC and MPP (IDS)).

We also employ social science research tools to deeply understand the drivers and challenges of farmers in relation to antibiotic usage, and their awareness about high-risk behaviors in relations to zoonotic infections.  In this way, we aim to propose feasible interventions to reduce antibiotic usage and zoonotic transmission.  A good example of this is the SCENERI project, which also has a blog.

Zoonotic, food borne and animal pathogens

Streptococcus suis (S. suis) is well known opportunistic pathogen in pigs and an important emerging zoonotic pathogen that can cause severe systemic infection in humans, including sepsis and bacterial meningitis. S. suis is commonly carried in the nasal cavities, tonsils as well as the respiratory, alimentary and genital tracts of pigs. S. suis can also be isolated from healthy pigs and these healthy carriers are a source of S. suis transmission in and between herds. The risk factors for human infection include direct exposure to S. suis infected pigs, pig products or eating undercooked contaminated pork products such as fresh blood pudding or internal organs. This indicates that S. suis is an important both as occupational pathogen and as a potential food borne pathogen. Occupational exposure to pigs or pork was documented in 88% of the European S. suis patients and nearly 50% of Asian cases infected with S. suis while processing or consuming fresh or undercooked pork products.

Whole genome sequence data is employed in our studies aiming to improve our understanding on zoonotic transmission of Streptococcus suis and E. coli as well as their antibiotic resistance determinants.

Animal carriage and infections with other pathogens is also investigated to understand their prevalence and improve diagnostic capacity of local research collaborators, which in turn will reduce unreasonable usage of antibiotic in treatment of sick animals infected with nonbacterial pathogens.

Our zoonosis researchers

  • A. Prof, PhD. Ngo Thi Hoa – Zoonosis Group Head
  • DVM, PhD Juan Carrique-Mas – Veterinary Epidemiologist (PI)
  • DVM, PhD Truong Dinh Bao – Veterinary Economist (Collaborator)
  • M.Sc Tran Thi Bich Chieu – Senior Research Assistant
  • DVM, MSc Nguyen Van Cuong – PhD Student
  • Dinh Thi Thuy Duong – Student
  • M.Sc Huynh Ngan Ha – Senior Research Assistant
  • Le Hoai Khanh – Field Support Coordinator
  • MSc. Nguyen Huu Nghia – Research Assistant
  • Vuong Bao Ngoc – Research Assistant
  • M.Sc Nguyen Thi Nhung – PhD Student
  • M.Sc Ho Thi Diem Phuc – Research Assistant
  • M.Sc, Tran Thi Anh Thu – Social science-Ph.D student
  • Nguyen Ngoc Tram – Field Support Coordinator
  • DMV, PhD Nguyen Vinh Trung – Postdoc
  • Nguyen Xuan Truong – Lab Technician
  • Doctor Ngo Tri Tue – Project Coordinator
  • Nguyen Thi Bich Van – Laboratory technician
  • Phung Le Kim Yen – Lab Technician

Our zoonosis research collaborations/partnerships

Our current collaborations include:

  • Hospital for Tropical Diseases, HCMC, Viet Nam
  • Centre for Preventive Medicine (Tien Giang, Dong Thap, Daklak)
  • General Hospital in Tien Giang, Dong Thap, Daklak
  • Sub-departments and Regional Offices of Animal Health (Tien Giang,  Daklak, Dong Thap)
  • MPP- ZELS consortium: Prof. Maskell, Department of Veterinary Medicine, Cambridge University (Dr Hayley Mac Gregor, IDS, Sussex Uni, Dr Alexandre Tucker and Prof. James Wood, Vet school, Cambridge Uni, UK; Dr Ye Tun Win, Livestock Breeding Veterinary Department, Republic of the Union of Myanmar
  • HECTOR consortium: Prof. Dr. Constance Schultsz (Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands), Prof. Dr. Christian Menge (Institute of Molecular Pathogenesis, Germany), Dr. Torsten Semmler (Robert Koch Institute, Germany), Prof. Dr. Roberto Marcello La Ragione (University of Surrey, UK), Prof. Dr. Lucas Domínguez Rodríguez (VISAVET Health Surveillance Centre, Spain)
  • SCENERI: Bui Le Na (artist), Assoc. Prof. Dr. Nguyen Thi Hong Xoan (Sociology department, Vietnam National University)