Université de la Réunion © Creative Commons

The DIDIDA project welcomes a new partner to support research on zoonotic diseases

The DIDIDA project is excited to announce the entry of a new partner, the University of Reunion Island, involving their research unit on Infectious Processes in Tropical Island Environments (PIMIT). The collaboration aims to improve the DIDIDA project’s diagnostics technology for detecting diseases such as dengue fever, yellow fever, Zika virus, and leptospirosis.

The PIMIT, headed by Dr Patrick Mavingui, is a joint research unit between the Université de La Réunion, the CNRS, INSERM, the IRD, and the Hospital Centre of La Réunion dedicated to studying the transmission of infectious diseases in humans and animals using a regional, integrated, intersectoral and interdisciplinary approaches.

The arrival of this new partner confirms the One Health approach of the DIDIDA project. One Health is an approach that recognises the complex interconnections between human health, animal health and the environment. In designing its innovation, the DIDIDA project places a strong focus on the need for collaboration between different disciplines such as health, ecology, sociology and environmental sciences.

This approach is particularly relevant to tackling global health threats such as zoonotic diseases. Zoonoses, which are transmitted from animals to humans, represent a major risk to public health, particularly in tropical island regions where the climate is warm and humid, the fauna diverse and the interactions between humans and animals close.

By studying zoonoses in islands, the DIDIDA project aims to identify and understand emerging threats such as mosquito-borne arboviruses (DENV, YFV and ZIKV) and leptospirosis, to enable early detection and rapid action.

As the diagnostic test under development aims at detecting several diseases simultaneously, research into zoonoses will provide valuable samples and information on the specific epidemiological patterns and co-infections prevalent in island contexts. By understanding the ecological factors and human-animal-environment interactions that determine disease transmission, our diagnostics technology will also be able to help monitor disease trends and support public health authorities in implementing targeted interventions. University of Reunion will also run trials in their laboratory to validate our newly developed technology.

The European Union’s Hop On facility programme has made this collaboration possible. It provides a unique opportunity to join forces with DIDIDA and Reunion university’s PIMIT research unit.

“We are very enthusiastic to contribute with our research capacities in zoonotic diseases to a project that integrates the One Health approach like DIDIDA. In particular, we will be collaborating with KCMC in Tanzania, which also has considerable expertise in zoonoses on the continent.

Thanks to its history and geographical location, Reunion Island is a bridge between Europe and Africa, and I am particularly pleased that we are taking part in the other issue of the DIDIDA project, which is to strengthen research capacities in Africa. In particular, we will be hosting several PhDs as part of their thesis within PIMIT, as well as the social sciences department, and making our laboratories available to them, while our student will make an exchange with KCMC.

The technology being developed will be a valuable tool, enabling us to detect and monitor zoonoses at an early stage. This will enable us to take action to prevent the spread of disease and protect human and animal health.”

Dr Patrick Mavingui

Microbiologist, director of research at the CNRS on the Réunion island and head of the joint research unit on infectious processes in tropical island environments (PIMIT).

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