Senior Scientist Childs’ area of research includes theecological dynamics of directly-transmitted zoonotic viruses, including the hantaviruses, arenaviruses and rabies, and vector-borne bacteria, including rickettsia, bartonella and borrelia. Prior to coming to Yale in 2004, Dr. Childs served as the Chief of the Viral and Rickettial Zoonoses Branch at CDC.
His recent interests and research, conducted in collaboration with Dr. Albert Ko, Division Chief at Yale, and Fleur Porter, an MPH candidate, focus on the ecoepidemiology of intra- and inter-specific transmission of leptospires in an urban slum setting in Salvador, Brazil. The Norway rat (Rattus norvegicus) is the principal reservoir host for leptospires causing human disease in Salvador, however, scant knowledge exists on the mechanisms of acquisition, maintenance and shedding of this bacterium by rats. Humans are directly infected by leptospires through contact with environments contaminated with spirochetes shed in the urine of infected rats Defining parameters of the natural history of leptospiral infection within individual rats and within rat populations, coupled with determinations of critical environmental and ecological features underlying the distribution and density of rat populations, will help elucidate risk factors for human infection and disease.