Eri Togami originally set out to become a veterinarian in small animal clinics in her native Japan. However, when she learnt the diverse and unique roles a veterinarian can play in public health, she became involved in the One Health Initiative. (The One Health Initiative is an international, interdisciplinary and collaborative movement to integrate human medicine, veterinary medicine, public health, environment and all other relative scientific fields to achieve one goal: to enhance health and sustainability for humans, animals and the environment.)
While studying for her veterinary degree, she also worked at a veterinary microbiology laboratory where she conducted a study on the prevalence and antimicrobial susceptibility of Capnocyptophaga canimorsus and C. cynodegmi in Japan. These pathogens are transmitted from dog and cat bites and scratches to humans and can sometimes be fatal. Eri decided to pursue studies at the Yale School of Public Health not only to build a strong foundation for biostatistics and epidemiology, but also to understand public health from a human standpoint.
As an awardee of Yale Global Heath Initiative: Field Experience Award, Eri is currently interning with the World Health Organization (WHO) in Suva, Fiji where she is working at the Emerging Disease Surveillance and Response Unit.The unit is responsible for managing a syndromic surveillance system for 23 Pacific Island countries for any abnormal clusters of diseases. This system allows timely response and investigation for any abnormal outbreaks that targets diseases such as influenza, dengue, chikungunya, zika virus infections, Guillain-Barré syndrome and diarrheal diseases.
In addition, she is conducting a retrospective study on the outbreak of the zoonotic bacterial disease, Leptospirosis, following a flood in 2012. This is one of the most important diseases in tropical regions around the world, and is transmitted from rodents and livestock to humans, or indirectly through urine-contaminated water. Eri is researching links between extreme weather events and outbreaks of this infectious disease.
Eri will stay in Fiji for the fall semester to serve as one of the principle investigators for a new project on Leptospirosis in collaboration with WHO, the Ministry of Health Fiji and Massey University of New Zealand. This study will enhance the knowledge of the transmission route of the Leptospira bacteria in tropical climates, setting the stage for more cost effective prevention measures for the Ministry of Health and the WHO.
Eri is a Master of Public Health candidate in the Department of Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases.