Publishing about parasites to support disease prevention
New journal Parasite Epidemiology and Control builds our knowledge about parasites and connects researchers
By Dale Seaton, PhD Posted on 26 October 2015
Parasites cause a variety of diseases in humans and animals, and pose a serious threat to health; malaria is still the world’s biggest parasitic killer. Studying the spread of parasite infectious diseases and developing and testing control measures is vital. For this work to be as effective as possible, researchers need to communicate their results with each other, and a new journal being by the World Federation for Parasitologists (WFP) and Elsevier enables them to do that.
The WFP brings researchers together, encouraging collaboration and information sharing through its world conference every four years. By launching a new journal – Parasite Epidemiology and Control – the WFP is providing a new platform to enable parasitologists to communicate their work on parasitic infections of humans and animals, including disease etiology and surveillance, drug resistance and geographical spread.
Tackling parasitic diseases
According to Editor-in-Chief Dr. Marcel Tanner, Professor of Epidemiology and Parasitology at the Swiss Tropical & Public Health Institute (Swiss TPH), parasites are still very important to human and animal health and have a variety of impacts.
“When we look at the burden of diseases in our world, we see that parasites still play an important role – the most important is still malaria, and neglected tropical diseases have a significant burden, particularly in developing countries. Attention to parasites is absolutely needed, not only looking at their interesting life cycles and molecular interactions, but looking at control and elimination.”
Parasites have complex and biologically fascinating life cycles, making it tricky to target the diseases using drugs and vaccines. Addressing parasitic diseases globally requires a view of the whole knowledge value chain, from understanding basic biological processes to applying intervention methods.
“This new journal aims to bring all the elements of this value chain together, not only looking at basic elements but also control in health and social systems,” said Dr. Tanner. “It’s not just another journal, this is really filling the niche as a platform to approach parasite epidemiology and control differently.”
Focusing on epidemiology and control
“Epidemiology and control has become much more prominent in parasitology in recent years, because we are beginning to see the possibility to have much better control of diseases,” explained WFP President Dr. Jørgen Kurtzhals, Professor in the Department of Immunology and Microbiology at the University of Denmark in Copenhagen.
Dr. Kurtzhals works primarily on malaria, which has been getting much attention. “Malaria receives a lot of funding, so we see lots of research on this disease. One of the real excitements in parasitology at the moment is the new malaria vaccine. We know the vaccine is still incomplete, but we are excited to see studies on how it is going to change malaria transmission. This is one of the kinds of research that we expect to publish in Parasite Epidemiology and Control.
“The vaccine could be the last straw; with a lot of other efforts going into malaria control, and combined with other steps, it could completely change the pattern of malaria epidemiology. We all dream about malaria elimination and maybe that’s the way it’s going.”
Researchers are also focusing on other aspects of malaria. For example, mosquito populations in East Africa appear to be disappearing, and malaria is declining in those areas. Looking into insect vectors and epidemiology is another angle to understanding and controlling disease.
“Rather than studies focusing on the disease, treatment and biological aspects, which are of course all important, we have a lot of interest in methods to control diseases,” said Dr. Kurtzhals
A new direction for the World Federation for Parasitologists
The World Federation for Parasitologists is a member organization, and its members are parasitology associations around the world. They have a history of running the International Congress of Parasitology (ICOPA) since 1960. The new journal will be a means of communication, giving the WFP a direct link to member associations and their member researchers.
“Recently we’ve been thinking that we should try to expand the activities of the organization, and this new journal is one of our major new initiatives to see how we can become more proactive and play a more important role,” said Dr. Kurtzhals.
“We really hope this journal will be well accepted by all fields of parasitology and that it will be a high standard journal in which we’ll see a lot of interesting and important papers,” he added.
The journal is now open for submissions. To find out more and submit a paper, visit the journal website.
About Parasite Epidemiology and Control
The official journal of the World Federation for Parasitologists (WFP), Parasite Epidemiology and Control focuses on the epidemiology of parasitic diseases, including etiology, surveillance, drug resistance, geographical spread, screening and the effects of treatment in clinical trials. It also publishes research on the epidemiology and control of vector insects. The journal will also cover the use of geographic information systems (Epi-GIS) for epidemiological surveillance which is a rapidly growing area of research in infectious diseases. Read more.