This project integrates methods from both the natural and social sciences to understand Buruli ulcer outbreaks in central Ghana. Here are examples of the work we are currently conducting in the field:
We have developed a mixed methodological approach to understand the socio-ecological characteristics of this complex disease. First, we wanted to develop a spatial understanding of each site according to local residents. We thus conducted community mapping with focus groups in participating communities. Focus groups were comprised of 10-15 men and women of various ages and occupations. The only criteria for selection of participants, which we left up to local leaders, were that individuals must possess an intimate knowledge of the area.
Simplified versions of the community maps were created and individual mapping exercises with BU and match cases were carried out in each site. Individuals labeled the maps according to where they play, work, wade in water, swim etc. This mapping exercise was part of larger survey querying Buruli ulcer risk behaviors. This data will allow us to establish differences and/or commonalties in the activity spaces between those who contract BU and the match cases who do not possess a history of the disease.