Soledad Colombe - Thailand

Thailand

Career goal: As a veterinarian, I am interested in the One Health concept which is the ideal of a collaboration between medical doctors, veterinarians and ecosystem biologists to protect populations' health and the environment. I would like to pursue a career in global health, with a focus on surveillance and emerging zoonoses’ outbreak response.

Internship outline: Soledad conducted a field epidemiology research project with the Ministry of Public Health in Thailand. She carried out a cross-sectional study of Brucellosis and Q fever among livestock in Sa Kaeo, a Thai province at the border with Cambodia. Brucellosis and Q fever are two bacterial zoonoses that can be transmitted from livestock to farmer. The aims of the study were to determine the seroprevalence at the herd-level for cattle, sheep and goats, identify risk factors associated with herds’ seropositivity and evaluate the presence of poor management practices that might represent a risk for spillover infections to humans. The importance of livestock trade between Cambodia and Thailand was also explored.This study will be foundational to the potential implementation of community-based surveillance among both farmers and their animals.

Value of experience: This internship allowed me to combine and apply to the real public health world the epidemiological skillset acquired both with my degree in veterinary medicine and the first year of the master program at Yale School of Public Health. I also got to appreciate what it is to work with a team with a culture completely different than mine and to be able to adapt to a new environment. The most important thing that the people I worked with taught me this summer is that no matter how intense your workload is, being able to laugh with your colleagues in the most stressful situations is the best motivation you will ever get.

Best moment/experience: I presented my project at the end of the summer at the One Health team of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA). It made me realize that I had accomplished a project over the summer that might have a bigger impact than I initially thought: the BMA health officers suggested that the design of my project should be used as a model for investigation of Brucellosis and Q fever in other agricultural provinces of Thailand.

Funding source: Downs Fellowship, SouthEast Asia Studies Summer Fellowship, Coca-Cola Foundation Grant