" 'One Health' is an approach to designing and implementing programmes, policies, legislation and research in which multiple sectors communicate and work together to achieve better public health outcomes."
- World Health Organisation
There is often an intersection between human, animal and environmental health, as many of the same microbes are present within different ecosystems. Rabies, for example, is spread to humans through the saliva of an infected animal entering open wounds, the mouth or eyes. But by developing a rabies vaccine for dogs while simultaneously running an education and immunisation programme for humans, it is possible to work on eliminating the disease.
The World Health Organization highlights three areas where a One Health approach is particularly relevant: food safety, the control of zoonoses (diseases that can spread between animals and humans, and combatting antibiotic resistance. Here at Moredun, our research encompasses each of these areas.
Here at Moredun, our research focuses on the prevention and control of diseases in livestock. However, some of the same pathogens that are carried by livestock can also be transmitted to people, causing illness. These are called 'zoonotic pathogens', examples of which include Toxoplasma gondii, Cryptosporidium parvum, E. coli and Campylobacter.
Moredun’s One Health research looks at the transmission pathways of pathogens between livestock, wildlife, people and the environment to help understand the risks and to develop methods to mitigate against disease.
Our research projects involve:
Toxoplasma gondii in the Caribbean:prevalence and genetic diversity in free-roaming chickens (WOHC poster presentation; PDF)
Toxoplasma gondii is a zoonotic parasite of global importance. The World Health Organisation and the Centre for Disease Control recognise toxoplasmosis as one of the most important foodborne diseases worldwide and a leading cause of death amongst foodborne illnesses. The disease also impacts the livestock sector where it is a major cause of ovine abortion. Control of T. gondii requires partnership between medical and veterinary professionals, thus making it a true One Health parasite. My work at Moredun currently focuses on the role of different meat products in foodborne toxoplasmosis as well as characterising T. gondii virulence in different hosts with the aim of developing a host-specific system to aid vaccine design and drug development.
Papers directly related to my poster:
My One Health research interests and outputs are as below:
Characterisation of the microbial resistome of a Sheep farm: A sewage-sludge experimental model (WOHC oral presentation)
Sewage is one of the major contributors to the dissemination of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and spread of resistance determinants into the environment. We investigated the impact of agricultural use of human sewage sludge on the evolution of ARGs/MGEs from sludge-treated soil and animals that graze on it. We used a unique sewage-sludge experimental model, established at the University of Glasgow Research farm, and comprising a 5.5 hectare “biosolids-treated” plot, receiving periodically applications of thermally treated sludge pellets since spring 2018. Soil samples from control and treated plots, spatially separated to avoid potential cross-contamination, and faeces from sheep grazing on it, were compared by analysis of resistance gene content. Preliminary results suggest that animals grazing on sludge pellet-treated pasture may not face a higher risk of selective pressure than animals from non-treated pasture suggesting that the use of human biosolids in agriculture may be safe with regards to dissemination of AMR.
Human pathogenic potential of Shiga toxin producing E.coli (STEC) isolated from wild Scottish deer (WOHC poster presentation; PDF)
Nanopore sequencing to assess carriage of microbes and antimicrobial resistance genes by a marine sentinel species (WOHC poster presentation; JPG)
My research largely focusses on Campylobacter, a zoonotic bacteria which is the leading cause of bacterial gastroenteritis in humans worldwide. Campylobacter species are widespread amongst animals and sources of human infection include contaminated meat (particularly poultry), raw milk and water. Campylobacter is also a major cause of ovine abortion and the ubiquitous nature of Campylobacter means it is a potential vehicle for the spread of antibiotic resistance genes through the food supply chain. Control of Campylobacter is therefore a high priority on the One Health agenda and current research at Moredun involves the application of proteomics and comparative genomics to investigate adaptation and survival within animal reservoirs.
My work also takes a One Health approach to explore the potential impacts of human activity on wildlife in terms of microbial contamination from sewage and agriculture. We are developing methods to rapidly detect pathogens and antibiotic resistance genes within field samples with the aim of further understanding pathogen transmission and assessing risk.
“I am delighted to see this example of One Health in action. This combined effort between the world class team at Moredun and SRUC has shown how vets and medics can work together to support the NHS and combat this pandemic”
- Sheila Voas, Chief Veterinary Officer Scotland
Moredun is a member of the SEFARI consortium along with five other institutes.
Over the past 8 months, SEFARI has been using its skills and expertise to assist with national and regional strategies dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Our collective efforts have included loaning equipment, staff volunteering and adapting our research to help with understanding the impacts of the crisis. In addition, Moredun, along with colleagues from Scotland's Rural College (SRUC) Veterinary Services have been working hard to support the NHS by providing extra capacity for testing to help tackle the pandemic.
Helping with a pandemic was not what Moredun was expecting to be doing during its Centenary year! However, it exemplifies the spirit and ethos of all SEFARI staff and our willingness to step forward in a time of crisis and do what we can to help. Efforts such as these show how effective a One Health approach can be used against COVID-19 and could provide capacity in the future to help tackle other potential zoonotic diseases.
You can read more details in our blog post on the SEFARI website: One Health in Action - Setting up a new testing node for COIVD-19 with the NHS
With schools moving to online learning over the past months, SEFARI has been working hard to develop and release various, free-to-use primary and secondary-level educational resources. Three SEFARI colleagues (Dr Eleanor Watson, Moredun; Dr Karen Scott, Rowett Institute; Prof Nicola Holden, SRUC) have developed a new curriculum-linked booklet detailing the the technology that is used to detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus and diagnose COVID 19.
You can view and download the booklet directly from the SEFARI website: The science behind COVID-19 testing: A resource for Higher Biology
6th World One Health Congress - Public Engagement Plenary Session
Moredun, supported by SEFARI, took part in a Special Partner Session organised by the University of Edinburgh. "A Blueprint for a One Health Nation" saw four local scientists discuss the concept of One Health and what it means for Scotland.
Journalist and broadcaster Simon Cousins carried out the interviews.
Cryptosporidiosis is the disease caused by infection with protozoan parasites called Cryptosporidium. The disease causes production losses in livestock farming and can also be a significant cause of disease and morbidity in humans, especially in the young, elderly or immune-compromised individuals.
For details on the research we carry out here at Moredun, visit our Disease & Research page on Cryptosporidiosis.
Our fun animation below highlights how to 'Control the Crypto' (funded by the BBSRC and the Moredun Foundation):