Antibiotic Resistance in the Serengeti
Dr. Douglas Call in Tanzania
Dr. Douglas Call in Tanzania

Finding a solution to antibiotic resistant bacteria is essential for human and animal health. Dr. Douglas Call, professor in the Allen School, along with an international team, will be studying three ecological zones of the Serengeti in Tanzania to understand how shared water, animal movements, antibiotic use and socio-economic factors contribute to the distribution of antibiotic resistance between communities.

Although unregulated use of antibiotics in many resource poor countries has contributed to the spread of antibiotic resistant microbes, Dr. Call’s research shows that this is a complex problem and other factors are involved.

“Resistance traits can enter through the introduction of new stock into a herd and these bacteria can then be shared between humans and animals," said Dr. Call. “In the Serengeti where people’s and animals’ lives are tied so closely, we learn much more about the ecology of antibiotic resistance to benefit both local and broader communities.”

The team will collect samples from 30 communities including antibiotic resistant isolates of E. coli from humans, livestock, and wildlife along with socio-economic and ethnographic data. Besides providing information about antibiotic use behaviors, these data will be incorporated into an ecological modeling process that will investigate the diversity of resistance traits, their spatiotemporal distribution, and the probable dissemination pathways between animals and humans.

The multidisciplinary team includes researchers with expertise in molecular biology, disease ecology, quantitative modeling, socioeconomic and ethnographic disciplines from the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health and the Department of Anthropology at Washington State University in the United States; and the University of Glasgow and the Royal Veterinary College of the University of London in the United Kingdom. Contributors in Tanzania include Duke University through their partnership with the Kilimanjaro Clinical Research Institute, the Nelson Mandela African Institute for Science and Technology, the University of Dodoma, the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute, the Directorate of Veterinary Services, and the Zonal Veterinary Investigation Centre. Funding for this work comes from the National Science Foundation, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (U.K.), the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health, and the WSU College of Arts and Sciences.

To learn more about the Allen School, visit the website.

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