Routinising genomic surveillance for endemic zoonoses: from rabies control to elimination
About Kirstyn Brunker
Kirstyn Brunker completed a Ph.D. at the University of Glasgow in 2016, where she established whole genome sequencing and phylogenetic pipelines to study rabies virus transmission in Tanzania. Since then, she has continued work on viral genomics as a postdoc in Glasgow, establishing local genomic surveillance platforms using nanopore sequencing in Tanzania and sites in Southeast Asia and Latin America. Her research interests lie in the application of genomics within One Health-based systems to improve animal/human pathogen surveillance.
Rabies virus is a zoonotic virus that causes a fatal neurological disease, predominantly spread to humans via rabid dog bites. Genomic surveillance stands to play a critical role in guiding efforts to control and eliminate dog-mediated rabies. Yet a misconception that cutting-edge genomics is inaccessible in low- and middle-income countries, where most rabies cases occur, holds back its application. Over the last 3-4 years we have applied nanopore sequencing to rapidly sequence rabies in low resource settings in East Africa, the Philippines, and Peru. Here, I report on its implementation, outcomes and implications for the future of rabies surveillance and control.