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Training scientists locally to solve problems globally

PULLMAN, Wash. – Antibiotic resistant bacteria are a major threat to human and animal health – and the problem is global. This fall Deogratius Mshanga, a research scientist from the Veterinary Investigative Centre in Arusha, Tanzania, worked at the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health at Washington State University to gain hands-on experience in detecting antimicrobial resistance in bacteria.
Doug Call, professor in the Allen School, is training scientists like Mshanga to better understand antimicrobial resistance and recognize the genetic mechanisms involved. Mstanga will take this knowledge back to local research communities to help scientists study why antibiotic resistance occurs, how it spreads and how to control it.
“Resistance traits can enter through the introduction of new stock into a herd, and these bacteria can then be shared between humans and animals,” said Call. “In a place like Tanzania where people and animal lives are tied so closely, we learn much more about the ecology of antibiotic resistance to benefit both local and broader communities.”
Resistance even without antibiotics
The unregulated use of antibiotics in many resource poor countries contributes to the spread of antibiotic resistant microbes. But Call’s research has found that it is not just antibiotic use that contributes to this problem. Resistance can be found even when antibiotics are not being used.
“We have cases where resistance continues in agriculture production because the genes that cause resistance are linked with other traits that give them an advantage in these environments,” explained Call. “Microbes can retain resistance genes for extended periods of time while disseminating to many populations of animals and humans.”
Sharing discoveries globally
Deogratius Mshanga, Tanzanian research scientist,
in Doug Call’s laboratory at WSU.
Because understanding the persistence of antibiotic resistance is so complex, having someone like Mshanga working with local research teams will help make big strides in reducing antimicrobial resistance. Mshanga will return to Tanzania and work as a field coordinator for an Allen School sponsored research project.
Tanzania is a place where locally raised domestic livestock, people and wildlife live in close proximity, so it offers a unique research opportunity.
“Having an experienced field person is invaluable,” said Call. “Because he knows the culture and the social and physical landscape, Dr. Mshanga brings enormous benefits to this research.”
To date Call has trained scientists from Tanzania, Kenya and Nigeria.
To learn more, visit the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health website

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