Our Knowsley Safari training exercise presents as ‘welcome’ Royal Society output

Blog 18 Jan 2023
Dr Juhasz with disease experts, inclusive of Profs Roy Anderson FRS,  Mark Viney & Peter Chiodini

On 28th and 29th November 2022, The Royal Society, UK held a successful and well-attended Theo Murphy Meeting entitled: “Strongyloides: omics to worm-free populations”. This symposium was organised by world leading experts on strongyloidiasis in humans and animals, inclusive of Dr Vicky Hunt, Dr Adrian Streit, Dr Dora Buonfrate, Professor James Lok and Professor Peter Odermatt.

Following from our unexpected and important finding of Strongyloides fuelleborni which took place during our diagnostic training exercise in July 202, Dr. Alexandra Juhasz presented our Wellcome Trust funded HUGS work as oral and poster presentations. Her talk was entitled “Strongyloidiasis in Semi-captive Baboons at Knowsley Safari” and drew attention to the first report of this helminth in natural transmission in the British Isles. Indeed, presenting our research at this prestigious Royal Society was indeed an additional ‘welcome’ output.

The symposium brought together basic and applied scientists working on neglected tropical diseases, particularly those interested in soil-transmitted helminthiasis, and strongyloidiasis in particular. The latter disease is typically caused by Strongyloides stercoralis, however, we now believe that its aetiology as caused by S. fuelleborni is grossly underestimated in sub-Saharan Africa. In this meeting researchers shared and presented the latest research and discussed future priorities and goals in treatment and control of Strongyloides globally.

Exploring research areas of overlap between disciplines for zoonotic helminths goes beyond that of strongyloidiasis and also firmly links with hybrid schistosomes and reservoirs of polyparasitism. Understanding the evolution of hybrids schistosomes in animals is a key research theme of HUGS and much can be learned from other One Health diseases. Poster pitches were another ‘welcome’ addition to the meeting’s programme allowing all participants (in the fields of biology, taxonomy, systematics, evolutionary biology, epidemiology, veterinary science, etc.) to engage in One Health discussions.

In short, this Royal Society event was an ideal opportunity to highlight HUGS, and its research ambitions, to an allied audience interested in zoonosis. We now look forward to a forthcoming publication of our strongyloidiasis research in Parasitology which brings to a formal conclusion of our initial diagnostic training exercise in Knowsley Safari.