University of Saskatchewan

Western College of Veterinary Medicine

From Left to right: Dr. Baljit Singh, ITraP project leader; Anupama Sharma, MVSc student from the Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences (GADVAS) University in India; Dr. Vikram Misra, ITraP co-applicant

Welcome to ITraP

Introduction

Welcome to the Integrated Training Program in Infectious Diseases, Food Safety and Public Policy (ITraP), the first graduate program of its kind in Canada. 

Funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, ITraP is an interdisciplinary, international training initiative in infectious diseases, food safety and public policy based at the University of Saskatchewan. This program is based on the 'One Health' ideas and goals.

The program's ultimate goal: To reduce the medical, economic and social impacts of outbreaks for people, industries and the public sector.

Background

It is increasingly apparent that there is a shortage of highly qualified personnel (HQP) in industry, government agencies and academia who are equipped to respond to global health issues and pandemic outbreaks of infectious diseases. The need for HQP in the area of health has been realized and articulated by industry and public agencies. The estimated cost of food-borne diseases in Canada is $15 billion per year.   

ITraP is part of the global One Health initiative which aims to create collaborations between people from many health and environmental disciplines in order to work toward better health care for humans, animals, and the environment.  ITraP is focused on training students in the field of infectious diseases, food safety and public policy so that ultimately, they will protect our national interests and the health of all Canadians. We are excited to kick-start this cutting-edge program that will train graduates to turn their interdisciplinary knowledge into public health policies.

Due to rising global mobility, disease transmission across borders is increasing. International engagement is crucial as we train HQP so they can effectively respond to the challenges of global health threats. Through the ITraP program, the University of Saskatchewan will partner with the Freie Universität in Germany and the Guru Angad Dev Veterinary and Animal Sciences (GADVAS) University in India to address these challenges.

We will also collaborate with government and industry partners to take multi-disciplinary science discoveries and translate them into public health approaches.

Our partners include:

We aim to encourage scientists and policy-makers to work together and face the challenges of identifying the pathobiology of infectious pathogens, their entry into the food chain or our daily environment, and the best means of intervention.

Infectious Diseases:

Thirty per cent of annual global human deaths are due to infectious diseases. At least three new infectious diseases emerge each year, 80 per cent of which originate in animals before crossing over into humans.

Infectious diseases can have dramatic medical, social and economic consequences. One example is the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The disease caused a modest number of human deaths (less than 1,000 deaths globally), but the outbreak depressed the Canadian economy by $1.5 to $2 billion and caused losses of nearly $50 billion worldwide.

Due to increased global mobility diseases are being carried across borders more easily. As people travel and transmit diseases throughout the world, so do contaminated foods shipped across borders.

About 250 food-borne infectious agents are known today including Campylobacter jejuni, Salmonella spp., and E. coli O157. A recent outbreak of E. coli killed more than 30 people in Germany, infected thousands of people throughout Europe and cost hundreds of millions of euros. 

Two well-known Canadian examples of food-borne disease include the contamination of drinking water with E. coli 0157:H7 in Walkerton, Ont., and the contamination of food products with Listeria monocytogenes in 2008. Both issues caused significant social and economic consequences. 

Zoonotic pathogens (pathogens that can be transmitted between animals and humans) have been found as a risk for accidental contamination of drinking water as seen through outbreaks of cryptosporidiosis in urban areas in Canada and the United States. 

Contamination of food and water compromises food safety and adds significantly to the burden of human diseases through transmission of infectious agents. There is a clear need for more well-trained people in the areas of infectious disease monitoring and epidemiology.