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Microbiology Australia Microbiology Australia
Issue 1

Parasitic Infections

From the Editorial Team

Welcome to the first issue of Microbiology Australia for 2016.

Parasitic infections: overlooked, under-diagnosed and under-researched

Professor George Nelson (1924–2009) once stated that, ‘Parasitology is the preserve of the diagnostically destitute’. Little has changed to this day, with potentially relevant parasitic causes of illnesses often not being considered early in the differential diagnoses of clinical presentations. Parasitic infections are sometimes overlooked as causes of morbidity and (in some cases) mortality in both the medical and veterinary fields. In Australia there remain significant problems associated with giardiasis, cryptosporidi...

The laboratory diagnosis of Strongyloides stercoralis

It is estimated that over 30million people worldwide are infected by the nematode, Strongyloides stercoralis1. It is endemic in sub-tropical and tropical parts of Australia, with high rates of infection documented in some indigenous communities2. Due to the potential for chronic autoinfection, that may persist for decades, migration leads to the presence of the infection in non-endemic areas1. Transmission to humans is generally through the penetration of larvae through the skin, following contact ...

Current WHO protocols for mass drug administration in helminth control

Soil transmitted helminths (STH), comprising Ascaris, Trichuris, Strongyloides and the hookworms remain a significant cause of morbidity amongst people in many parts of the world, including Australia. Other important helminth infections include lymphatic filariasis (LF), schistosomiasis and onchocerciasis. Preventive chemotherapy (mass drug administration [MDA]) campaigns are frequently conducted for these helminth infections in endemic areas, but the target population groups, duration of campaigns, cointerventions (e.g. vector control) ...

Zoonotic tissue parasites of Australian wildlife

Increasing use of bushlands for recreational, commercial and scientific activities fosters movement across the urban-bushland interface. This may facilitate the transmission of parasitic diseases from wildlife to humans (zoonoses). The fashionable trend to consumption of game meats such as feral pig and crocodile, and raw fish such as sushi, sashimi and pickled herring has exacerbated the zoonotic potential of parasites of wildlife.

Assessing enteric helminths in refugees, asylum seekers and new migrants

Currently there are 59.5million people forcibly displaced worldwide as a result of conflict, human rights violations, generalised violence or persecution. Of these, 19.5million are refugees and 1.8million are asylum seekers. Each year Australia accepts 13750 refugees through the offshore Humanitarian program, and in 2016 that number will almost double with the addition of 12000 refugees from Syria and Iraq. Many refugees have complex medical needs and have reached Australia after a difficult journey, often involving time in refugee camps and ex...

Free living amoebae and human disease

Pathogenic FLA are ubiquitous protozoans and despite frequent human contact remain a rare cause of often devastating infection with poor prognosis. Given changes in climate, human encroachment into the environment, increasing immunosuppression, and improving diagnostic capacity, it is likely we will see increased cases in the future. Early diagnosis is challenging but crucial to achieving a favourable outcome. It is best facilitated by improved awareness of FLA disease, appropriate clinical suspicion and early diagnostic testing.

Tapeworm cysts in the brain: can we prevent it happening?

Imagine the consternation; you are a member of an orthodox Jewish family and you and another family member are diagnosed with larvae of a pork tapeworm in your brain. You have recurrent seizures as a result. Ridiculous? Not for members of a Jewish community in New York where a Mexican domestic worker harbouring a Taenia solium tapeworm had apparently contaminated the family's food with eggs from her tapeworm1.

Seafood-borne parasitic diseases in Australia: How much do we know about them?

Fish are host to many parasites, some of which can cause disease in humans. With the increase in cultural and culinary diversity and the increased popularity of eating raw or slightly cooked seafood dishes in Australia it is speculated that seafood-borne parasitic infections in Australian consumers may rise. Seafood-borne zoonotic parasites are recognised as a significant public health concern worldwide. In Australia there are few reports of infection in humans in the medical literature. Australian Government enforcement agencies rate the risk ...

Children, snails and worms: the Brachylaima cribbi story

Brachylaimids are parasitic trematode fluke worms that have a terrestrial life cycle involving land snails and slugs as the first and/or second intermediate hosts for the cercarial and metacercarial larval stages. A wide range of mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians are the definitive hosts for the adult worm. Brachylaima spp. have been reported from most continents including Europe, Africa, Asia, North and South America and Australia. There are over 70 described species in the genus with seven species indigenous to Australi...

Malaria: global challenges for malaria eradication

The enormous decline in the annual morbidity and mortality from malaria is the spectacular global public health success of the past decade. This achievement results largely from increased finance for investment in measures known to prevent malaria: bednets treated with long-lasting insecticides, chemoprophylaxis, and rapid access to effective treatment. Such has been the success of these measures that plans are being put in place to achieve the vision of a malaria-free world within the next three decades. Large financial and political commitmen...

Plasmodium knowlesi: an update

There were only four species of Plasmodium that were thought to cause malaria in humans until a large number of human infections by Plasmodium knowlesi, a malaria parasite typically found in long-tailed and pig-tailed macaques, were reported in 2004 in Malaysian Borneo. Since then, cases of knowlesi malaria have been reported throughout South-east Asia and also in travellers returning from the region. This article describes the molecular, entomological and epidemiological data which indicate that P. knowlesi is an ancient p...

Diagnosis of human taeniasis

Taenia solium, T. saginata and T. asiatica are taeniid tapeworms that cause taeniasis in humans and cysticercosis in intermediate host animals. T. solium can also cause cysticercosis in humans. A number of diagnostic methods have been developed to diagnose Taenia species that infect humans. This article is aimed at providing an overview of currently available diagnostic methods for human taeniasis.

Protozoa PCR: boon or bane

Parasite detection in faeces has traditionally been performed by microscopy, a procedure that is labour-intensive and highly specialised. In addition, identification by microscopy based on morphological features alone is subjective and prone to wide variability. Although enzyme immunoassays (EIA) of high sensitivity have been developed1 they can detect only a limited range of pathogens. Given these factors the introduction of Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) into the routine diagnostic laboratory has improved parasite detection rates<...

FT020 Water Microbiology Australian Standards Committee

2016 ASM Communication Ambassador Program

Stopping dengue: recent advances and new challenges

Volume 37 Number 1

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