This week, Dr. Eddy Kambale Syaluha, our head veterinarian in DR Congo, is in Tours, France at a conference focused on One Health, infectious disease and tropical medicine.

The conference is part of a new Pan African microMonkey Project (a model of international translational study to address the prevention of fungal infection in African great apes based on the One Health approach). The project was started by Professor Guillaume Desoubeaux, PhD, the head of Parasitology, Mycology and Tropical Medicine at the University of Tours.

Dr. Eddy and Dr. Desoubeaux at the University of Tours, September 6, 2022.

Dr. Eddy and Dr. Desoubeaux first met when Desoubeaux was working in Virunga National Park collecting fecal samples from both gorillas and chimpanzees for scientific research. He is studying the epidemiology of microsporidiosis (a fungal pathogen) and also working to better understand the ecological impact of people and great apes living in close proximity with regard to the transmission of parasites between people and apes.

Agricultural fields go right up to the park boundary. Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda. © Skyler Bishop for Gorilla Doctors

Naturally, when Dr. Desoubeaux met Dr. Eddy and discovered that Gorilla Doctors’ mission is to conserve wild eastern gorillas through life-saving veterinary medicine and science using a One Health approach, he wanted to tap Dr. Eddy’s expertise. Gorilla Doctors’ One Health approach recognizes that the health of people, gorillas and their shared environment is intrinsically connected – the health of one impacts the health of all.

The focus of the meeting in Tours was to bring together international collaborators to: 1) assess the prevalence of digestive fungi in African great apes, and 2) to explore fungal and parasitic pathogen transmission among great apes and other species, including humans. To name a few of the partners in attendance (in-person or virtually): National Museum of Natural History, Alfort National Veterinary School, Beauval Nature Association and the French Surveillance Network of Microsporidiosis.

Dr. Eddy sent a WhatsApp message following his presentation to say,

“We had a lively discussion around many topics! Topics such as how Gorilla Doctors manages infectious disease outbreaks like COVID-19, Ebola and other respiratory disease outbreaks, what the current health threats and conservation challenges are to wild eastern gorillas, the vaccination of wildlife, and what laboratory processes we use to analyze samples. It was a great interactive session.”