Despite early pronouncements in the 1960’s that infectious diseases had been vanquished with the advent of antimicrobials, we have seen in recent years an acceleration of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases worldwide. Causes range from the development of resistance to antimicrobial therapies to enhanced global travel of disease organisms. It is estimated that approximately 60% of these diseases are zoonotic and that, among the zoonoses, some 72% are believed to trace to wildlife populations (Nature 451:990-994). Current IGHHP studies in infectious disease have begun with a determination of mosquito dispersal in the region of San Isidro de Peñas Blancas, San Ramón, Costa Rica to develop a baseline from which studies in vector movements linked to climate changed can be investigated.
In recent years there has been a resurgence and spread of endemic infectious diseases, as well as the emergence of novel ones, around the world. Current IGHHP studies in infectious disease have begun with a determination of mosquito species demographics in the region of San Isidro de Peñas Blancas, San Ramón, Costa Rica to develop a baseline from which studies in vector movements linked to climate change can be investigated. Of particular interest is the presence of Aedes aegypti since it is a known vector of Dengue, Chikungunya and Zika viruses, all three of which have been reported in areas of Costa Rica in recent times.
In a second surveillance study, wild birds and poultry are sampled using cloacal and laryngo-tracheal swabs for the presence of Avian Influenza virus. Samples are submitted to the Costa Rican government (SENASA) for PCR testing.
Chagas’ Disease, a neglected zoonotic disease caused by Trypanosoma cruzi, a protozoan parasite vectored by a triatomine bug, with sylvatic and peri-domestic reservoirs. Also referred to as American Sleeping Sickness, IGHHP is investigating the presence of this parasite in the insect vector, as well as in possible reservoirs such as opossums and dogs.
In the past 2-3 years, cases of cutaneous leishmaniasis have been documented in humans in some regions of rural Costa Rica. IGHHP will be conducting epidemiologic investigations on the occurrence of this parasite in human populations and dogs in the region of the Texas A&M Soltis Center. Studies include trapping protocols to determine the prevalence of the sandfly vector.