With the analysis completed (multiple times), articles written and rewritten, reviewed, and finally approved, I managed to squeak by the University of California Davis graduate studies deadline for the submission of theses/dissertations on November 25th. I have officially graduated, completing the study on calf diarrheal disease and its public health importance among pastoralists, and finalizing the outreach materials.
In the end, we focused on the use of calves as disease sentinels for rudimentary diarrheal disease surveillance. The concept of animal sentinels has a long history with the best example provided by canaries in coal mines: build-ups of CH4 and CO immediately effect the more fragile and susceptible birds who pass out and expire in cages alerting miners to the presence of a deadly substance. Likewise, in this study, calves were identified as highly susceptible to diarrheal disease, along with the diarrheal disease causing pathogens Giardia and Cryptosporidium; the presence of diarrhoeic animals in a pastoral herd can therefore be utilized as a sign for the presence of potentially infectious agents, alerting managers who may then implement a series of recommended counter measures to protect the remainder of the herd and household members from exposure.
The Thumbnail Cover: “Calves as Sentinels for Diarrheal Disease in Households Practicing Traditional Livestock Husbandry”
Thanks also to friends at the HALI project for the kind posting on completing my degree!