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Transmission and control of parasitic zoonoses

Transmission and control of parasitic zoonoses

Professor Phil Craig, Professor Mark Danson, Professor Geoff Hide, Professor Michael Rogan and  Professor Judith Smith of the School of Environment and Life Sciences undertake diagnostics development and epidemiological studies on zoonoses, developing approaches for the surveillance, prevention and control of non-vector borne zoonotic pathogens:

  • Making a contribution to the understanding of the transmission and epidemiology of zoonoses, especially echinococcosis, but also toxoplasmosis and African trypanosomiasis;
  • Altering traditional views on routes of transmission and control options/surveillance at farm or rural community level using molecular ecology and molecular diagnostic approaches;
  • Improving public health and quality of life of the communities and the economies of regions affected through changing national and international public health policy for the surveillance, prevention and control of zoonotic parasitic diseases.

Supporting international improvements in public health

Parasitic zoonoses affect both human and animal populations and often exhibit complex life-cycle patterns, thus the transmission ecology becomes important for understanding epidemiology and in consideration of control interventions. The Cestode Zoonoses Research Group, which is based in the Biomedical Research Centre, but includes members from several collaborating institutes and acts as an Echinococcus reference centre for DEFRA (UK) and the World Animal Health Organisation (OIE).

  • Phil developed the Echinococcus copro ELISA test which was applied  to screen farm dogs in mid Wales showed increased levels of transmission over a >10 year period and resulted in the subsequent initiation in 2008 by the Welsh Assembly Government of a dog-focused pilot echinococcosis control programme in the endemic region. This surveillance tool has been recommended for use by WHO since 2001 and already copied and applied to epidemiological studies and Echinococcus control programmes in Argentina, Chile, Australia and China.
  • The research team’s research in western China provided community data and surveillance approaches that underpinned the decision of the Ministry of Health China to undertake the world`s largest echinococcosis control programme. This National Echinococcosis control programme continues to run in China through the 2010-2020 Action Plan with US$100 million allocation wherein coproantigen tests for canine echinococcosis, based on the research, are used as a key surveillance tool across 8 Provinces.
  • In 2010 the team formed a Salford-based enterprise laboratory Cestode Diagnostics as a testing, development and training unit for cestode parasite detection, diagnosis and molecular typing of animal and human derived samples which has also recently highlighted pathological problems of larval cestodes in mammals in zoos or safari parks in UK. An Echinococcus OIE/ DEFRA licensed reference laboratory under Phil has operated in Salford since 1999. 
  • Our collaborative work on the development of molecular tools for understanding human and animal trypanosomiasis in Africa in collaboration with the University of Edinburgh has demonstrated the importance of cattle as a reservoir for human sleeping sickness and this has led to the development of the “Stamp out Sleeping Sickness (SOS)” programme in Uganda and contributed to the “Research in Use” scheme.
  • The World Health Organisation, Collaborating Center for Prevention and Treatment of Human Echinococcosis recently provided an overview of research on disease distribution and refers to the impact of Phil and his colleagues’ international collaborative work in China: “This academic initiative, which now focuses on more specific research issues, has been followed by a national program for surveillance and management of the disease in China (Action Plan, 2010), which involves 14 ministries and is certainly the most ambitious state-funded project ever implemented to diagnose and treat AE in the world.”  

Key reports

The Control of Neglected Zoonotic Diseases: Community-based interventions for prevention and control (2011). Report, WHO Geneva

UK Zoonoses reports Defra UK 2011

World Health Organization paper 

Report of the WHO Informal Working Group on cystic and alveolar echinococcosis surveillance, prevention and control, with the participation of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Organisation for Animal Health 22–23 June 2011, Department of Control of Neglected Tropical Diseases WHO, Geneva, Switzerland.