Understanding human-bat interactions using systems dynamic modelling

Lead supervisor: Associate Professor Simon Reid, QAEHS and School of Public Health, UQ

Contact: simon.reid@uq.edu.au


Project description

Since discovery of Australian bat lyssavirus (ABLV) in 1996 and human deaths now totalling three, Australia has aggressively managed potential lyssavirus exposures. This has led to significantly greater use of Human Rabies Immunoglobulin (HRIG) in post exposure treatment as defined by current guidelines.  This is problematic because there is a chronic global shortage of HRIG, which has become more expensive and scarce in countries with endemic canine rabies and high rates of human deaths.  The management of potential lyssavirus exposure is hindered by a lack of understanding of the environmental and social determinants of human-bat interactions. 

This PhD will create a systems dynamic model to explain the interactions between the environment, bats, humans and dogs that lead to potential lyssavirus exposures.  It will use an approach that has been well validated in a number of studies at UQ, such as the PhD project of Danielle Currie that has successfully identified promising areas for interventions to reduce the number of outbreaks of cryptosporidiosis in QLD (Danielle Currie).  It builds on preliminary discussions between the CI and staff from the Darling Downs and Gold Coast Public Health Units as well as the Principal Veterinary Officer of Biosecurity Queensland (BQ).  These organisations share many of the same issues with regards human/dog-bat interactions.  The study will use participatory methods to define, build and test a model using data on human exposures from the Notifiable Conditions System (NOCS) and dog-bat interactions from a database managed by BQ. 

The PhD student will gain valuable experience in the field of systems thinking, including systems dynamic modelling, which is rapidly becoming an important new disciplinary area in public health.

Preferred educational background: Undergraduate Class I or IIA honours or Masters degree in Public Health, with a keen interest in systems thinking and its application to solving environmental health problems.

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