This years British Society for Parasitology Spring meeting focused on ‘from science to solutions: optimizing control of parasitic diseases’, which fueled fascinating discussions, where our very own Jo Cable joined a debate panel highlighting the problems of control and elimination of parasitic diseases, particularly within farming practices and wildlife. Despite our increasing exposure to parasites, we only have the capacity to vaccinate approximately one third of our population against newly emerging diseases; that is without even considering animal diseases.
Prof. Peter Hotez from the Baylor College of Medicine captivated the society with his plenary lecture on achieving sustainable development goals through Neglected Tropical Disease (NTD) control and elimination. Despite significant declines in the prevalence of diseases including lymphatic filariases, ascariasis and trachoma, little progress has been made towards the elimination of vector-borne NTD’s such as leishmaniasis, Chagas disease and arbovirus infections: posing major threats to human health particularly within areas at the confluence of extreme poverty, human migrations stemming from conflict and climate change. Additionally, with the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals, this year we have seen some new and important trends, including the rise of NTD’s among the poor living in wealthier G20 countries.
For the remainder of the conference we listened to and participated in the ecology sessions sponsored by the BES Parasites and Pathogens, particularly welcoming international parasitologists from afar: Prof. Thomas Cribb (University of Queensland, Australia), Prof. Nico Smit (North-West University, South Africa), Dr. David Thieltges (Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research) and Prof. Kurt Buchmann (University of Copenhagen), all interested in aquatic ecosystems. A broad array of research was presented from fish trematodes of the Indo-west Pacific to the interplay between nematodes, seal predation and fishing practices of Atlantic cod populations in the Baltic Sea.
CRIPES member Alex Stewart presented his research about the effects of winter length variation on parasite dynamics and host immunity, which was followed by Mike Reynolds’ talk on how flow rate can promote parasite transmission between shoaling fish. Our final CRIPES presenter, Willow Smallbone, received ample attention for her poster on parasite susceptibility and immune function of wild vs. ornamental fish stocks. In an excellent symbiosis, Mat Garner highlighted the plasticity of immune response in amphibians, while Mat Fisher described the impact on the chytrid pathogen on the same hosts. We particularly enjoyed Dr. Mark Torchin’s plenary lecture explaining how parasites can help us understand the latitudinal diversity gradient, and of course then there was the BES Parasites and Pathogens social event. Thanks to new CRIPES member Tom Pennance for organizing the social – a great start to your PhD!
We look forward to the BSP Spring Meeting 2017 at the University of Dundee – come and join us there!