One Health has always been of interest to OVC 2014 grad Emily Denstedt. In particular, wildlife and ecosystem health are particular passions.
For Denstedt, bringing them together encompassed both veterinary medicine and public health.
She followed up her DVM training with a small animal rotating internship at OVC’s Health Sciences Centre and a mix of emergency and general practice in the London, Ontario, area before returning to OVC for the Master of Public Health (MPH) program in 2016.
Denstedt wanted her MPH practicum to bring together her passion for One Health and wildlife. She found the perfect combination in Rwanda with a project focused on the rural area surrounding Volcanoes National Park and the Gorilla Doctors project.
The world renowned Gorilla Doctors and Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project is dedicated to saving the lives of critically‐endangered mountain gorillas living in Africa. Dr. Mike Cranfield, OVC 1977, is co-director of Gorilla Doctors and project director for the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project.
The close proximity of the forest and rural area means gorillas and people live virtually side-by-side. The health of both are tied intricately together. Improving the health of people and livestock that live or work in close proximity to the National Park and, by extension, helping to prevent the transmission of infectious disease to gorillas, is a large focus of the Mountain Gorilla Veterinary Project.
“The mountain gorillas are frequently in close proximity to people, which increases the risk of a sick person introducing a disease that could dramatically impact gorilla population numbers,” notes Denstedt. Improving the health of the local community not only reduces the risk of pathogen transmission to gorillas, but it builds goodwill and trust, potentially motivating the community to partner in conservation efforts.
Read more about Denstedt’s MPH practicum and ongoing work with the project on the OVC website.