Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine (RUSVM) has forged a partnership with Quisqueya University to explore joint research collaborations that will impact the Caribbean region.
On a visit to Haiti, RUSVM Professor of One Health and Associate Dean for Research and Postgraduate Studies, Dr. Arve Lee Willingham along with RUSVM Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Dr. Yussaira Castillo signed a Memorandum of Understanding agreement between the universities to initiate studies on porcine cysticercosis caused by the zoonotic pork tapeworm, Taenia solium.
The study “Porcine cysticercosis in Haiti—a neglected problem” will determine the prevalence of porcine cysticercosis in selected communities of the country. The team will lead an epidemiological investigation in households and conduct a survey in pig slaughter sites.
According to Dr. Willingham, the results of the study will form part of a broader RUSVM-led initiative to better understand and mitigate the burden of infections caused by the food-borne parasite Taenia solium in Central America and The Caribbean Basin.
“Cysticercosis can be prevented, and this research is the first step to determine the presence of the parasite, quantify the burden and suggest feasible control initiatives and implement them at the farm, slaughter, retail, home, and community levels. The longer term aim is a large scale cross-border investigation throughout the island of Hispaniola of Taenia solium infections in both pigs and humans in liaison with local collaborators and the Pan America Health Organization (PAHO).”
During the visit, the RUSVM research team met with several leaders of Quisqueya University including Dr. Max Millien, former Chief Veterinary Officer of Haiti, and now Vice Rector for Research and Innovation at Quisqueya University and intended Principal Investigator for the cysticercosis project. The team also visited the Medical Diagnostic Imaging Center in Port-au-Prince and Haiti’s Ministry of Public Health and Population (Ministère de la Santé Publique et de la Population or MSPP) and the National Laboratory for Public Health.