Dr. Andrew Azman, a research associate in the department of epidemiology in the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has received a $348,000 grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to test a new method of estimating the annual cholera rate in Bangladesh.
Knowing when and where cholera cases and infections occur is foundational for cholera control planning. To date, our understanding of cholera incidence and risk largely relies on clinic-based surveillance, which only captures a fraction of the true cases and infections. Dr. Azman’s Infectious Disease Dynamics Group, working in collaboration with icddr,b, Harvard University, University of Utah and Epicentre, has developed new methods to estimate the proportion of a population infected in the previous year using from measuring a suite of antibodies against cholera in a small sample of the population and combining them with machine learning methods.
Dr. Azman’s team plans to use the grant to apply these new methods to estimate the annual incidence of cholera infection in Bangladesh, where it is believed the annual cholera incidence is high, but no reliable estimates exist, leading to high levels of uncertainty in global burden and vaccine demand estimates. Bangladesh is known as the ancestral home of cholera. As Bangladesh prepares to ramp up their national cholera control efforts, including plans for use of oral cholera vaccine, identifying incidence ‘hotspots’ could help focus prevention efforts and increase their effectiveness.
If successful, the team expects that these methods will be adopted as one part of the surveillance for tracking progress towards the World Health Organization’s 2030 goals of ending cholera as a public health threat.
Dr. Azman’s research focuses on the epidemiology and dynamics of enteric diseases like cholera. His work spans from field-epidemiology to computational modeling and involves a diverse array of collaborators ranging from bench scientists to humanitarian organizations.