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Workgroup Wildlife Health and Disease Reservoir Systems

The research group exists at FLI since October 2020. We study pathogens at the wildlife-human interface with focus on ecosystem health and One Health. Our research profile includes current topics on infectious diseases and zoonoses (in particular in Neglected Tropical Diseases), the evolution and adaptation of pathogens to their host, including the development of resistance to antibiotics, and the study of disease reservoir systems. At present, our work in the field of spirochete infections in animals and humans has received international recognition. For example, we were able to detect the yaws bacterium in African monkeys, demonstrating that sustainable eradication of yaws in humans requires a One Health approach. Our research provides sustained support for the work of International Health Organizations.

We understand pathogens as an integral part of biodiversity and ecosystems and use laboratory knowledge to understand diseases where they occur. The research group is well connected internationally and uses state-of-the-art and innovative methods for the detection of microorganisms. Our methods range from antibody detection, molecular epidemiology by e.g., multilocus-sequence typing, to complex enrichment of target DNA molecules and high-throughput sequencing. Our projects range from surveillance in environmental samples (e.g., water and vectors) to create early warning systems for pathogens, to genome sequencing and the establishment of specific point-of-care tests in animal and human diagnostics.

We have been working at eye level with our project partners abroad (e.g., in Tanzania, Ethiopia and Ghana) since 2007, conducting basic and applied research as well as capacity building in wildlife health and management, One Health and species conservation.