Academic Year 2023-2024
Institution Queen's University, Belfast


School: School of Biological Sciences

Project: Identifying Environmental Factors for Soil Transmitted and Food Borne Helminth Diseases in Border Regions of Northern Thailand.

Supervisors: Professor Geoff Gobert & Dr Sandra Telfer

Undergraduate Education: BSc Bioscience, University Centre Peterborough, Anglia Ruskin University

Postgraduate Education:MSc One Health, Utrecht University

Research: Parasitic worm infections (helminthiases) of humans greatly impact low to medium income countries such as Thailand, by undermining health and agricultural productivity. Thailand is classified as an ‘Upper Middle Income’ Country. However, due to the nature of helminth diseases, endemic sites are significantly impacted by border countries including Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar, all of which are classified as ‘Least Developed’ Countries. Parasite eggs found in the soil or unwashed vegetables are the primary source of infection. Similarly, food borne diseases, including the cancer-causing Opisthorchis, are contracted by consuming uncooked fish, and are linked to water sources, and the interaction between snail and fish hosts. This project will use recently published human prevalence data [1] to focus on specific locations and parasite species (Opisthorchis viverrini, hookworm, Ascaris lumbricoides and Trichuris trichiura) in endemic regions of Northern Thailand. Environmental sampling and eDNA methods will be established at QUB and then performed in Thailand, so that environmental components of disease transmission can be identified. The aim of collecting such accurate prevalence data is to help guide future public health initiatives, highlight the need for more rigorous surveillance in these regions, including help guide the design of this project as it moves forward.



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