Research on whipworms has implications for human health and animal conservation
About 600 million people around the world live with whipworms. Most are children in the developing world, whose physical and mental development is stunted by these gastrointestinal parasites.
The whipworms affect their ability to learn and therefore have a long-term impact on the social and economic situations of some of the world’s poorest people. Although the whipworm species Trichuris trichiura is known to inhabit both non-human primates and humans, little is known about the parasite.
Indeed, until a recent study by Ria Ghai, a doctoral student in biology at McGill, it was widely assumed that a single species was capable of infecting both primates and humans. But Ghai has discovered that there are three genetically distinct groups of whipworms – and only one of the three appears to be transmissible between humans and non-human primates. It is important information for public health officers around the world.
Ghai’s research, published recently in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, was done in the rainforest of Kibale National Park in southwestern Uganda, which has one of the largest concentrations of primates in the world.
The trees are alive with monkeys, and include endangered species such as the red colobus monkey, the eastern chimpanzee, and the rare l’hoest’s monkey as well as more common species, like baboons. In all, there are 13 different species of primates within the park. But the park is an island of forest within one of the most densely populated agricultural regions in East Africa, with a population of 300-600 people per square km. And there is increasing human pressure on limited land and growing interaction between the two groups.
“The park has been a protected space since 1993, but for a very long time people have been going into the forest to gather wood to burn and banana leaves and grasses to weave with, as well as to hunt bush meat, and it’s hard to change habits when people are in such need,” says Ghai. “The monkeys also come out of the park to raid the fields for maize and sweet potatoes. So in a place where there is little running water to wash either food or hands and where people walk barefoot wherever they go, it is not surprising that there is an exchange of fecal matter between humans and primates that has led to the transmission of whipworms.”
Although researchers and medical people have known about whipworms for a long time, people have paid little attention to the transmission of the parasite between primates and humans until now. Ria Ghai’s molecular analysis of the fecal matter from various species, including humans, suggests that there is one strain of whipworms t found only in humans, another strain which is only found in either black-and-white or red colobus monkeys, and a final strain found in both humans and primates.
“What this shows us is that we have been underestimating biodiversity,” says co-author Prof. Colin Chapman, from McGill’s Department of Anthropology and School of the Environment who has been working in the area for many years. “There are far more species of parasites around than we had expected, and we hope this new information will be useful both for conservationists and for people working in health policy.”
To read the full article in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases:
Media Relations Officer
Katherine Gombay | newswise
Upcycling 'fast fashion' to reduce waste and pollution
03.04.2017 | American Chemical Society
Litter is present throughout the world’s oceans: 1,220 species affected
27.03.2017 | Alfred-Wegener-Institut, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung
More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.
Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...
Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.
"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...
The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.
Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...
The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...
Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.
Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...
28.04.2017 | Event News
20.04.2017 | Event News
18.04.2017 | Event News
28.04.2017 | Medical Engineering
28.04.2017 | Earth Sciences
28.04.2017 | Life Sciences