PREDICT Success: Building Awareness of One Health in Mexico

PREDICT Mexico

PREDICT Field Coordinator teaching UNAM students field techniques based on PREDICT protocols.

The PREDICT team in Mexico has integrated research on human and animal systems to develop a new conservation medicine framework for the country. These efforts have made One Health an important part of the national conversation.  

The team’s efforts have resulted in two successful international conferences, several well-trained Masters and PhD students and a health position on Mexico’s Technical Council of Animal Health.

Starting Conversations

The International Conference of Disease Ecology and the Conservation Medicine Conference were developed by the PREDICT team along with Mexican universities and the non-profit Mexican Association of Conservation Medicine. The conferences, in 2011 and 2013, drew more than 150 attendees from many organizations. PREDICT Mexico also organized and participated in three symposia at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) on different campuses.

These gatherings led to discussions about how anthropogenic activities, climate change, and biodiversity loss affect disease dynamics, as well as discussions about new strategies to monitor wildlife health.

Training Future Experts  

PREDICT Mexico has supported the training of several Masters and PhD level students in disease ecology and evolution of disease at UNAM. Their research included pathogen discovery and the effect of species diversity and landscape change on the dynamics of infectious diseases.

One PhD student participated in a month-long exchange program to learn deep sequencing techniques at the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia University. The student’s study, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, revealed a highly diverse group of bat-derived viruses in African and Central American bats that are related to hepaciviruses and pegiviruses within the family Flaviviridae. Evolutionary analyses indicate that all such known viruses, including those from humans and other primates, originate in bats.  

The study suggests that bats are a natural reservoir for hepaciviruses and pegiviruses, which further enhances our understanding of the evolutionary history of the hepatitis C virus and the human GB viruses.  

Lasting Change

The PREDICT team’s efforts in Mexico have helped develop a One Health framework for emerging disease prevention and control on a national level.

The team’s country coordinator was invited to present to three Mexican governmental departments. It was the first time Mexico’s health department (CONASA), agriculture department (SAGARPA) and health and natural resources department (SEMARNAT) have come together to talk about connections between the health of wildlife and domestic animals.

As a result of these efforts, a wildlife health position was established on the Technical Council of Animal Health and the PREDICT country coordinator was invited to serve a two-year term as the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) representative.