Global Health, Emerging Infectious Diseases, and Food Safety Implications of Bushmeat Consumption in Tanzania

Project: Research project

Project Details


Our fundamental research proposal seeks to define the role of bushmeat as vehicles for transmitting important zoonotic pathogens (pathogens that cause diseases that are shared between human and animals) to humans. 'Bushmeat' refers to meat and organs derived from wildlife species, several of which are either deemed threatened or endangered. For instance, wildebeest, zebra, buffalo, non-human primates including chimpanzees, and smaller species like cane rat, fruit bats and guinea fowl are all frequently hunted or trapped for consumption in many countries in Africa and elsewhere. Bushmeat is typically harvested illegally in highly contaminated environments, and transported to distant markets in unhygienic conditions. Given the documented prevalence of diseases and pathogens such as anthrax, Brucella and Coxiella amongst wild ungulates (hoofed animals) in Tanzania, bushmeat represents a plausible but yet undefined public health risk. In addition, high-risk wildlife species including bats, rodents, and non-human primates that have frequent interactions with humans, are known to carry viruses such as Ebola, Marburg, and Monkeypox, but the prevalence of these pathogens in Tanzania remains unknown. The overall objective of this study is to map the distribution and prevalence of zoonotic pathogens in bushmeat from different geographical and ecological regions of Tanzania and assess the biological risk and potential for impact on human health. We have assembled a multidisciplinary team of scientists to help traverse these critical knowledge gaps. With the use of the cutting-edge technology, and a comprehensive and statistically robust sampling approach, our investigators will map the distribution of these major human and animal pathogens in bushmeat from different geographic and ecological regions of Tanzania; namely The Greater Serengeti Ecosystem, the Ruaha-Rungwa Ecosystem, and the Selous-Mikumi Ecosystem. Through the application of powerful molecular diagnostics assays and genomics based tools, we will test several hypotheses relating to the prevalence of select agents in bushmeat. Finally, metagenomic surveys of bushmeat from various animal species, geographic locations, and seasons will be used to define the total pathogen (including novel agent) burden. Taken together, the results of our proposed investigations will provide a rational basis for defining the public health risk associated with bushmeat harvesting, trade, and consumption in Tanzania. Further, with substantial partner country engagement, we anticipate that our proposed research program will help strengthen Tanzania's infectious disease research and disease surveillance capabilities, and thereby ensure sustainable impact.
Effective start/end date11/19/15 → …


  • Defense Threat Reduction Agency: $2,559,097.00


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