Successful field sampling period concludes

Daniela Contreras
March 20, 2024

As part of the EPIWild initiative, six field teams were deployed between October 2023 and March 2024 in the regions of Los Lagos and Los Ríos, carrying out extensive sampling and information gathering to determine the places of greatest risk for the transmission of new diseases. These teams were made up of professionals with experience in capturing bats and wild rodents, who were supported by veterinary medicine students from the UACh and the Universidad de Concepción.

The six teams distributed between the regions of Los Lagos and Los Ríos were led by the researchers of the EPIWild Ring project, accompanied by professionals, assistants and interns from the Austral University of Chile and the University of Concepción, who completed a few days ago the field activities, where 100 different geographical points were visited, capturing rodents and bats, from which different biological samples were obtained, along with the application of epidemiological surveys to the inhabitants of the surrounding areas.  

Benjamín Sánchez, a 4th year veterinary student at the UACh valued the experience of working with a team of researchers of the highest level. "It was very enriching to get close to wildlife in the field. Although I had previously participated in CEREFAS and was able to relate and interact more with wildlife, I felt that I was missing something more related to the field, with having to walk in the middle of the forest, having to walk in the mud, getting wet if it rains, etc. I also had a team that made me feel very comfortable, they explained and taught me all the procedures we did," he said.

Likewise, Javiera Soto, a 5th year student of the same career, highlighted the opportunity that this project gave them to participate in such an important stage of a research project of this magnitude. "We value very much having the opportunity to learn and delve into the capture and collection of biological samples of fauna, which is fundamental in the training of those who are interested in the area and want to develop in it," she said.

Dr. Gerardo Acosta, director of EPIWild, pointed out that in terms of human capital, the project will incorporate postdoctoral fellows in the fields of spatial modeling and bioinformatics, as well as doctoral, master's and undergraduate thesis students, who will develop different research projects based on the samples collected during field activities. With the completion of the sample collection, the laboratory phase will begin, using state-of-the-art genomic technology, thanks to the participation of the Austral-omics laboratory of the UACh.

The EPIwild project "Unraveling the effect of global change on disease emergence for sustainable health" is an ANILLO initiative of the National Agency for Research and Development (ANID) and is made up of researchers and academics from the Universidad Austral de Chile. Its objectives are to determine how habitat degradation and fragmentation influence the presence of emerging pathogens; to build predictive models of pathogen emergence and transmission, as well as to design risk maps; and to transfer the knowledge acquired to decision makers for use in the development of public health policies.


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