SORT Member Practicum Spotlight: Laura de Mondesert

As part of their Rollins School of Public Health requirements, many SORT members engage in full-time practicum experiences both domestically and abroad.

In our ongoing series, we hope to highlight some of the amazing things our members are doing in the field of outbreak and response. First up, a recap of second-year SORT member Laura’s field experience in Brazil!

From May to July 2016, Laura worked as a research assistant in Minas Gerais, Brazil, piloting a mixed case-control study. Her study aimed to delineate the role of parasitic co-infections and micronutrient deficiencies on the onset and progression of Hansen’s disease, also known as leprosy. In piloting the study, she translated study documents, worked to gain study approval by the Brazilian IRB, trained collaborators on the study protocol, assisted community health professionals with contact tracing, and managed active patient recruitment in rural communities surrounding the city of Governador Valadares. During her time in Brazil, her team screened close to 120 patients for leprosy in the community of Limeira de Mantena. In a second component of this project, Laura collaborated with local health departments to obtain geospatial data on cases of leprosy, schistosomiasis, and leishmaniosis in the past five years. Using the Brazilian national notifiable disease surveillance system, SINAN, she conducted a preliminary spatial analysis of Schistosoma mansoni and Mycobacterium leprae infections in the micro-region of Governador Valadares, Minas Gerais, Brazil, and surrounding areas, reported over the last five years. The goal of this study is to determine whether spatial and temporal associations of these two infections exist in this area of Brazil. As one of Laura’s deliverables to the project, she created maps of the study area using geocoding techniques learned in Brazil, and presented these maps to the Board of Directors at the collaborating medical school in Vespasiano, Minas Gerais, Brazil. The success of this presentation led to the study being awarded continued financial support!

Stay tuned for more updates from the field! 

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