A look back at EcoHealthNet 2017 Workshop “Dealing with Emerging Threats to Global Health; Zoonoses and Antimicrobial Resistance”

A look back at EcoHealthNet 2017 Workshop "Dealing with Emerging Threats to Global Health; Zoonoses and Antimicrobial Resistance"

Cummings Voices blog post inspired by ramen, written by Adam Krantz, MCM17 with significant contributions from Vikas Mendhiratta, V19 and Makoto Sakomoto V19.

EcoHealthNet is an undergraduate and graduate-level global research coordination network, funded by the National Science Foundation and lead by EcoHealth Alliance.  EcoHealthNet brings together world-class research scientists from human and veterinary medicine, ecology, epidemiology, virology, anthropology, climate science, data science, and economics to advance One Health research and education. This summer, Cummings School through the Center for Conservation Medicine hosted the 2017 EcoHealthNet Workshop, an intensive one-week program designed to explore the pressing issues threating global health. Among the participants were three Cummings School students that included me, Adam Krantz, MCM17; Vikas Mendhiratta, V19; and Makoto Sakomoto V19.

Throughout the week, global infectious disease management was addressed by a variety of professionals. We simulated outbreak scenarios to more effectively understand and identify critical information during an outbreak of an unknown disease agent; and, we honed our data collection and analysis skills. The lectures and exercises were extremely valuable, but we collectively agree the most significant part of this experience was the relationships formed between workshop participants and expert instructors.

EcoHealthNet Workshop rodent trapping field activity with Dr. Chris Whittier, Grafton Campus.

EcoHealthNet Workshop rodent trapping field activity with Dr. Chris Whittier, Grafton Campus.

Here we’ll touch on some of our favorite moments:

‘Ebola 360 Day,’ a daunting title no doubt, but it proved to be (we believe) a very comprehensive examination of a major global health threat.
The day started off with Dr. Sara Bennett, who directed the CDC’s efforts in Sierra Leone during the most recent outbreak. Dr. Bennett instructed us in the human differential diagnosis for Ebola, which includes Lassa fever, typhoid fever, and malaria while highlighting the difference in presentations. She helped us understand the requirements to ‘Interrupt Transmission’ and how her team established a call center, an “Ebola 911”, which allowed them to dispatch resources. Dr. Bennett also explained the importance of a standardized case definition and how this helped her team follow-up on 15,000 contacts every day. Then reality struck when she described the role of the teams working towards isolation and treatment including ambulance, decontamination, and burial. It was that moment (through non-verbal cues) we seemed to collectively understand the gravity of the disease and the privilege of our new knowledge partially paid for by the unfortunate.

Slowly the groups’ esprit de corps returned to its jovial nature but with a new, cohesive, and purposeful focus. The Ebola Day continued with Dr. Vincent Munster visiting from NIH Rocky Mountain Laboratories, lecturing on the ecology of Ebola. Using non-human primate carcasses his team discovered the virus could remain viable in the environment for 6-10 days and detectible for up to 6 weeks.

Dr. Jon Epstein, V02, MPH02, entreated us to the complexities of bat reservoirs for Filoviruses and the major gaps in identifying the reservoir for Ebolaviruses. Dr. Larry Madoff from the MA Dept of Public Health and Editor of ProMED explained the international challenges of reporting and responding to the Ebola outbreak.

Dr. Christopher Whittier, V97 rounded out our new knowledge with information on other wildlife victims of Ebola, with a focus on the non-human primates and potential efforts to interrupt transmission through these populations. The ‘Ebola 360 Day’ concluded with a panel discussion that was broadcasted live.

Ebola 360 Panelists: Dr. Chris Whittier, Cummings School Center for Conservation Medicine; Dr. Larry Madoff, ProMED Editor-in-Chief; Dr. Vincent Munster, NIH Rocky Mountain Laboratories; Dr. Sarah Bennett, CDC Global Health Protection and Moderator Dr. Jonathan Epstein, Eco health Alliance.

Ebola 360 Panelists: Dr. Chris Whittier, Cummings School Center for Conservation Medicine; Dr. Larry Madoff, ProMED Editor-in-Chief; Dr. Vincent Munster, NIH Rocky Mountain Laboratories; Dr. Sarah Bennett, CDC Global Health Protection and Moderator Dr. Jonathan Epstein, Eco health Alliance.

Throughout the conference, we were genuinely impressed with degree of intellectual hunger each of us brought to the table. One week was far from enough time as every meal and break between lectures were filled with fascinating discussions about recent articles read, projects worked on, individual experiences and collective aspirations. These little moments dispersed throughout the week gave us time to reflect on lectures and magnified the learning potential of the workshop.

The experience concluded with a tour of MA State Public Health Laboratory in Jamaica Plain, followed by dinner at Quincy Market. During dinner that final night, it was fun to introduce our new friends from around the world to the joy of New England cuisine. With minds and belly’s full, the awful pains of saying goodbye were tempered only by exhaustion and the need for sleep.

Adam Krantz, MCM’17 (second from right) pictured with fellow EcoHealthNet Workshop participants.

Adam Krantz, MCM’17 (second from right) pictured with fellow EcoHealthNet Workshop participants.

Share