Republic of Congo
The Republic of Congo’s tropical forests contain an astonishing level of biodiversity, including large numbers of primates, bats, rodents, shrews, and ungulates. The region provides an optimal opportunity for wildlife disease surveillance at one of Africa’s most active human-wildlife interfaces and in an Ebola virus-endemic region. As recently as 2005, Ebola Hemorrhagic Fever outbreaks have affected both human and wildlife populations, including large populations of gorillas and chimpanzees. High consumption of wildlife meat (“bushmeat”) from these and other species in the country carries with it a very active human-wildlife interface. The significant presence of existing and prospecting extractive industries increase the risk for disease emergence by altering habitats, changing ranging patterns of key wildlife species, and increasing human-wildlife interaction in remote areas; this adds to the potential for pathogen emergence and transmission. Despite the wealth of biodiversity and intimate interaction of populations at these interfaces, the Republic of Congo’s current capacity to conduct wildlife disease surveillance at a regional and national level is still developing. Through existing and future collaborations with wildlife authorities, animal agriculture, human health ministries, and other wildlife and health professionals, PREDICT will work to help improve and expand current surveillance in high-risk regions and build in-country capacity to continue these surveillance activities in the future. During this first year of the Emerging Pandemic Threats program, Wildlife Conservation Society teams in Republic of Congo catalyzed the response to an outbreak of what was believed to be Ebola hemorrhagic fever, including mobilizing teams to investigate the potential involvement of wildlife and supporting Congolese public health authorities and international response teams.
Country Coordinator: Kenneth Cameron
Dr. Kenneth Cameron received his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Michigan State University in 1990. After practicing as a zoological veterinarian for several years, he moved his focus to free-ranging wildlife, providing veterinary care and conducting gorilla health-related research with the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project. He returned to zoological clinical medicine until 2004, when he accepted a position as Director and Veterinarian of the Jane Goodall Institute’s Tchimpounga Chimpanzee Rehabilitation Center. In 2006 he joined the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Global Health Program as Field Veterinarian, implementing a great ape health program and Ebola virus and other disease research projects in the Republic of Congo. Since 2009 he has been coordinating PREDICT activities in the Republic of Congo with the aim of developing local capacities to conduct monitoring and surveillance of zoonotic disease in wildlife.