This multi-disciplinary study examined the changing nature of human contact with nonhuman primates in equatorial Africa and the health consequences of those contacts. To provide describe more fully this contact, its changing significance over the past 150 years, and its influence on human health, we examined human-primate engagements and the emergence of selected diseases. We developed multi-disciplinary understandings of past dynamics of disease emergence and new insights into future ones.
This multi-disciplinary study examined the changing nature of human contact with great apes and monkeys in equatorial Africa and the health consequences of those contacts. In an effort to provide a fuller description of contact, its nature, changing significance over the past 150 years, and its influence on human health, we examined the range of human-nonhuman primate engagements and the emergence of selected diseases (Ebola, HIV, simian foamy virus) as well as unknown ones (Disease X) attributed to human-nonhuman primate interactions. The SHAPES study developed multi-disciplinary understandings of past dynamics of disease emergence and new insights into future ones. Our investigation explored changing interactions between human beings and NHPs in three equatorial African forest zones: the Lobéké forest of southeastern Cameroon and the Mai-Ndombe and Tshuapa Provinces, Democratic Republic of Congo. We developed significant insights and recommendations that should be integrated into current emerging infectious disease surveillance in central Africa.
We used an innovative approach to achieve these objectives. At the foundation of our multidisciplinary approach were anthropological and historical methods. But these tools informed our quantitative questionnaire, and more important, a novel quantitative participatory approach, in which village-level volunteers tracked their own forest activities and geo-located their contacts with nine different species of nonhuman primates. In addition, we collected stool samples from people in the southeastern Cameroon forest and from gorillas and chimpanzees in the same site, and analyzed the microbial ecologies of these samples. We not only compared these microbial ecologies with those of gorillas and chimpanzees in captivity, as well as their human caretakers, but we also are using our wide-ranging social sciences analyses to explain the reasons for any commonalities in these microbial ecologies.
The SHAPES project conducted multidisciplinary rethinking of the concept of “contact”, a key driver of animal diseases that infect human beings that represent a major threat to human health. It shed light on the early history of HIV in southeastern Cameroon and central Africa, examined the complexity dynamics of changing forest coverage in a forest-edge region in Democratic Republic of Congo. The project led to a new project, namely a European Commission-funded global social sciences network for preparedness and response to infectious threats and antimicrobial resistance. The global network, beginning in January 2019, will be coordinated by Tamara Giles-Vernick (Institut Pasteur). L. Alcayna-Stevens developed significant expertise in central African Ebola outbreaks and has since contributed to the response to the 2018 epidemic in the Equateur Province.
We will continue to deepen our understanding of zoonotic disease. Financed through the INCEPTION call for interdisciplinary projects, the MICROTONE study sheds light on zoonotic disease emergence by examining social and ecological pathways facilitating microbial and viral flows between people and animals. We conduct comparative metagenomic analyses of virome and gut microbiome among people and selected wild and domesticated animals along a gradient of ecological change in a forest-savanna mosaic in Democratic Republic of Congo, an epicenter of zoonotic disease emergence. We analyze potential viral and bacterial overlap among humans and animals and explain this overlap (or not) through social sciences and ecological analyses of human and animal mobilities, practices and contacts. This multi-disciplinary, multi-species investigation in an ecotone (a transitional ecological zone linked to zoonotic emergence) offers a “pre-history” of spillover and emergence, tracing an ecological web of virome and microbial sharing among humans and animals, and elucidating why such flows occur.
We also received a European Commission Horizon 2020 funding to coordinate SoNAR-Global, a global social sciences network for preparedness and response to infectious threats and antimicrobial resistance. Coordinated by Tamara Giles-Vernick at Institut Pasteur, SoNAR-Global will bring together 11 partners in leading social sciences institutions around the world. The project will begin in 2019.
The SHAPES project has published several of its analyses, and several other manuscripts are in process. We have published in EcoHealth on the beginnings of HIV and on rethinking the notion contact, and we have a forthcoming article with PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases (accompanied by a press release by the journal). A forthcoming article (2019) by doctoral student Christophe Demichelis will examine transdisciplinarity in the examination of human-landscape interactions. Christophe Demichelis and Guillaume Lachenal have chapters forthcoming in collections. Finally, at least two additional articles will be submitted in 2019, addressing comparisons between intestinal microbiota of great apes and humans in the forest and a European zoo and integrating our multi-disciplinary social sciences analyses.
This multi-disciplinary study examines the changing nature and contexts of human contact with great apes and monkeys in equatorial Africa and the health consequences of that contact. The nature of “contact” has been addressed by biomedical researchers, but not by social scientists. We will bring together historical, anthropological, geographic and biological analyses to provide a fuller description of how contact, its nature and significance have changed over time and shaped human health. This social sciences study will insert the complexity and variability of human practice and historical, geographical processes into studies of zoonotic transmission and disease emergence. Focusing on selected diseases that have emerged in part through human-nonhuman primate interactions, our study will offer robust multi-disciplinary, social sciences understanding of past dynamics of disease emergence and insight into present and future ones. We will set the foundation for a metagenomic study of enterotypes shared by humans and great apes -- of paramount interest because these interactions are the ground zero of potential pathogens entering human bodies.
Madame Tamara Giles-Vernick (Unité d'Epidémiologie des Maladies Emergentes, Institut Pasteur)
The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.
IRD Maladies Infectieuses et Vecteurs:écologie, génétique, évolution et contrôle
Hôpital Saint Louis Service de Microbiologie
City University of New York, Lehman Coll Department of Anthroplogy
UR2 Université Rennes 2
Centre Pasteur de Yaoundé Department of Virology
SPHERE - Université Paris Diderot SPHERE - Sciences, Philosophie, Histoire – UMR 7219
University of California, San Francisco Departments of Laboratory Medicine & Medicine (Infectious Diseases)
University of Coimbra Department of Anthropology
IP-UEME Unité d'Epidémiologie des Maladies Emergentes, Institut Pasteur
IP-EPVO Unité d'Epidémiologie et Physiopathologie des Virus Oncogènes, Institut Pasteur
Help of the ANR 498,962 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: September 2014 - 36 Months