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The Impact of Parasitology on Public Health

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 November 2022) | Viewed by 16928

Special Issue Editors

Department of Translational Research, N.T.M.S., School of Medicine, Università di Pisa, 56126 Pisa, Italy
Interests: zoonotic parasites; parasite systematics; host-parasite interactions
Department of Public Health and Infectious Diseases, Sapienza University of Rome, P.le Aldo Moro, 5 - 00185 Rome, Italy
Interests: zoonotic parasites; parasite systematics; host-parasite interactions
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Parasitology is more and more neglected in the teaching of medical schools, especially in industrialized countries, leading to a loss of knowledge which might cause difficulties in the diagnosis and treatment of parasitic diseases in the near future.

Parasites continue to represent a very important threat to human beings.

Data from the 2013 Global Burden of Disease studies have highlighted how parasitic infections continue to be among the leading causes of the most severe disabilities worldwide.

For example, intestinal helminths account for billions of infections worldwide, with an important impact, in terms of mortality and loss of disability-adjusted life years, on human health, particularly in low-income countries where they may worsen malnutrition conditions especially in childhood, with important effects on children’s psycho-physical growth.

The aim of this Special Issue is to provide some examples of how parasites may affect public health in different geographical areas.

This Special Issue will present three sections: (i) vector-borne parasites; (ii) water-borne parasites; (iii) foodborne parasites.

All aspects of these parasites can be considered, but particular emphasis should be given to their impact on public health, in terms of quality of life and socio-economic relevance.

Prof. Dr. Fabrizio Bruschi
Prof. Dr. Stefano D'Amelio
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • vector borne parasites
  • waterborne parasites
  • foodborne parasites
  • socio-economic impact

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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12 pages, 2839 KiB  
Article
Tegumentary Leishmaniasis in Northeastern Italy from 2017 to 2020: A Neglected Public Health Issue
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(23), 16047; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph192316047 - 30 Nov 2022
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1428
Abstract
Tegumentary leishmaniasis (TL) includes cutaneous (CL) and mucosal (ML) leishmaniasis; despite being endemic in southern Europe, it is often underdiagnosed and underreported. This study aimed to retrospectively examine data collected from patients with TL in a selected area of northeastern Italy (Emilia-Romagna region, [...] Read more.
Tegumentary leishmaniasis (TL) includes cutaneous (CL) and mucosal (ML) leishmaniasis; despite being endemic in southern Europe, it is often underdiagnosed and underreported. This study aimed to retrospectively examine data collected from patients with TL in a selected area of northeastern Italy (Emilia-Romagna region, RER). A network of 10 diagnostic units within RER was established, and TL cases diagnosed in RER from 2017 to 2020 were evaluated. A total of 135 TL cases were collected (62% male, 38% female); patients ranged from 1 to 84 years, with a median age of 57. Among these cases, 113 (84%) were notified to the public health authorities. The average annual incidence of TL was 0.76 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Infections were acquired within the RER in 84% of cases; the 113 autochthonous cases were distributed in the foothills areas of the region. We provide evidence of a defined spatial distribution of TL cases in a selected area of northeastern Italy, as well as a relevant number of ML cases. Our observations suggest the need to raise awareness about TL among clinicians and pathologists, promote the molecular confirmation of cases by reference laboratories, and encourage the establishment of surveillance networks for this neglected disease. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Impact of Parasitology on Public Health)
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14 pages, 1050 KiB  
Article
Validation Parameters of the Magnetic Stirrer Method for Pooled Sample Digestion for Trichinella spp. in Horse Meat Based on Proficiency Tests Results
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(21), 14356; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph192114356 - 02 Nov 2022
Viewed by 1179
Abstract
Meat of horses may be infested with nematodes of the genus Trichinella spp. and can cause serious disease in humans. Rules for the carcasses sampling of species susceptible to Trichinella spp. infection and examination are laid down in Commission Regulation 1375/2015, where the [...] Read more.
Meat of horses may be infested with nematodes of the genus Trichinella spp. and can cause serious disease in humans. Rules for the carcasses sampling of species susceptible to Trichinella spp. infection and examination are laid down in Commission Regulation 1375/2015, where the magnetic stirrer method for pooled-sample digestion is recommended (Commission Regulation 1478/2020). All personnel involved in the examination should be properly trained and participate in quality control programs. Proficiency tests (PTs) play a key role in the quality verification process. This paper presents the results of PTs organized for 68 Polish laboratories in 2014–2019. Results were assessed qualitatively at three levels of sample contamination (0, 3, 5 larvae) and quantitatively at one level (5 larvae). The laboratories have achieved the average correct qualitative results 100%, 96.2% and 96.8% for the samples contaminated with 0, 3 and 5 larvae, respectively. In the quantitative evaluation, an average 94.1% of the reported results were correct. The data from PTs enabled us to define, for the first time, validation parameters of the digestion method for the horse meat matrix in a large-scale experiment including: specificity (100%), sensitivity (95.6%), accuracy (97.1%), the limit of detection (LOD) (1.14 ≈ 1) and the limit of quantification (LOQ) (3.42 ≈ 3). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Impact of Parasitology on Public Health)
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14 pages, 745 KiB  
Article
The Association of Toxoplasma gondii IgG and Liver Injury in US Adults
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(12), 7515; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19127515 - 19 Jun 2022
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 2457
Abstract
Background: Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) is a ubiquitous obligatory intracellular parasite which infects over 40 million Americans and causes toxoplasmosis. Inside the human body, T. gondii can damage tissues and invade vital organs. Methods: This study evaluated the association of T. [...] Read more.
Background: Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii) is a ubiquitous obligatory intracellular parasite which infects over 40 million Americans and causes toxoplasmosis. Inside the human body, T. gondii can damage tissues and invade vital organs. Methods: This study evaluated the association of T. gondii infection and liver disease using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2009–2010, with a sample size of 3371 participants (age 20–80 years). Toxoplasma infection was determined by the level of T. gondii IgG antibody in serum samples. Liver disease was assessed by liver injury biomarkers and the Fatty Liver Index (US-FLI). The evaluation of the association between T. gondii infection and liver disease included the calculation of the Mantel–Haenszel risk ratio (RRMH), Rho-Scott chi-square bivariate analyses, design-based t-tests, and linear and logistic regression models which were adjusted for demographic and anthropometric covariates. Results: Mean levels of aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alkaline phosphatase (ALP) were significantly more elevated in the T. gondii IgG-positive (IgG+) participants as compared to T. gondii-negative (IgG−) participants, p = 0.0435 and 0.0310, respectively. In linear regression analysis, exposure to T. gondii IgG+ had statistically significant positive associations with AST (p = 0.0211), alanine aminotransferase (ALT) (p = 0.0221), and gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT) (p = 0.0258) after adjusting for BMI, age, gender, and race. T. gondii exposure was associated with an elevated relative risk of chronic liver disease (CLD) (RRMH = 1.26, 95% CI: 1.05–1.51). This association was more pronounced in certain occupations, such as construction, agriculture, forestry, and fishing, where Toxoplasma infection is more common (p = 0.0477). Moreover, Toxoplasma infection increased the odds of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) (OR = 6.99, 95% CI = 1.85–26.32, p = 0.0237). Conclusion: T. gondii IgG+ antibody was significantly associated with liver injury biomarkers (ALT, AST, GGT, and ALP) and an increased risk of CLD and NAFLD. Moreover, the association of Toxoplasma with CLD was more evident in specific occupations where the prevalence of Toxoplasma was high. The findings of this study provide insight into utilizing liver biomarkers and US-FLI to assess the health complications of Toxoplasma when imaging tests are not accessible. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Impact of Parasitology on Public Health)
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14 pages, 1914 KiB  
Article
Cystidicola farionis, a Swim Bladder Parasite of European Smelt: Characterization of the Nematode Trehalose Strategy
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(11), 6430; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19116430 - 25 May 2022
Viewed by 1623
Abstract
The molecular identification of Cystidicola farionis (a swim bladder nematode of European smelt from the Vistula Lagoon in Poland) was performed. Their prevalence level was determined, and changes in the trehalose synthesis pathway in larvae and adult nematodes were demonstrated. The trehalose level [...] Read more.
The molecular identification of Cystidicola farionis (a swim bladder nematode of European smelt from the Vistula Lagoon in Poland) was performed. Their prevalence level was determined, and changes in the trehalose synthesis pathway in larvae and adult nematodes were demonstrated. The trehalose level was almost four times higher in adult nematodes than in larvae. In contrast, the activity of both enzymes (trehalose 6-phosphate synthase, TPS and trehalose 6-phosphate phosphatase, TPP) involved in the synthesis of trehalose was higher in larvae than in adults under optimal conditions. The optimum pH for TPS isolated from larvae and adults was pH 7.0. The optimum pH for TPP from larvae and adults was pH 7.0 and pH 8.0, respectively. The optimal temperature was 20 °C, and Mg2+ ions were an activator for trehalose-synthetizing enzymes from both sources. Enzymes isolated from adult nematodes were less susceptible to divalent ion chelator and inorganic phosphate than larval enzymes. The dynamic transformation of trehalose in the nematode developing inside the swim bladder of the smelt appears to be an important metabolic pathway in the nematode survival strategy. These studies are aimed at a better understanding of the issue of the metabolic adaptation of parasites, which, in the future, may indirectly contribute to the elimination of the parasite from aquacultures, which will impact public health. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Impact of Parasitology on Public Health)
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Review

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18 pages, 714 KiB  
Review
Lymphatic Filariasis: A Systematic Review on Morbidity and Its Repercussions in Countries in the Americas
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(1), 316; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19010316 - 28 Dec 2021
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 4137
Abstract
The Global Program to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (GPELF) is a program that aims to eliminate lymphatic filariasis by 2030. The GPELF strategy is based on interrupting transmission using mass drug administration (MDA) and, in parallel, managing morbidity cases. However, it has been seen [...] Read more.
The Global Program to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (GPELF) is a program that aims to eliminate lymphatic filariasis by 2030. The GPELF strategy is based on interrupting transmission using mass drug administration (MDA) and, in parallel, managing morbidity cases. However, it has been seen that there is a shortage of research in the literature and public policies regarding this last pillar. In this study, we reviewed the literature and available information regarding the burden of filarial morbidity. In addition, we identified that in the Americas, the implementation of structured services with regard to morbidity assistance in the Americas was scarce. We formed a review that aimed to assess the pathogenesis, epidemiology, repercussions, and treatment of filarial morbidity in countries in the Americas where lymphatic filariasis is endemic. Structured searches were carried out on PubMed, LILACS, Scopus, and Web of Science databases without time and language restrictions. Three reviewers evaluated the 2150 studies and performed data extraction, and quality assessment by assigning scores to the studies found. The current literature and available information on the burden of filarial morbidity, as well as the implementation of structured services with regard to morbidity assistance in the Americas, were all found to be scarce. Now that this knowledge gap has been identified, both health services and researchers need to seek the implementation and enhancement of the maintenance of GPELF strategies that relate to the morbidity pillar. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Impact of Parasitology on Public Health)
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Other

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29 pages, 6802 KiB  
Systematic Review
Prevalence of Signs of Severity Identified in the Thai Population with Malaria: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19(3), 1196; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19031196 - 21 Jan 2022
Viewed by 2227
Abstract
Understanding the prevalence of signs of severity identified in the Thai population with malaria could aid clinical management and disease control efforts, decrease mortality, and promote malaria elimination in Thailand. This systematic review aimed to collate the evidence regarding signs of severity identified [...] Read more.
Understanding the prevalence of signs of severity identified in the Thai population with malaria could aid clinical management and disease control efforts, decrease mortality, and promote malaria elimination in Thailand. This systematic review aimed to collate the evidence regarding signs of severity identified in the Thai population with malaria. MEDLINE, Web of Science, and Scopus were searched for potentially relevant studies. The quality of the included studies was assessed using the Joanna Briggs Institute critical appraisal tools. The pooled prevalence of signs of severity among patients with severe malaria and the pooled proportion of each sign of severity among all signs of severity were estimated using random-effects models. Heterogeneity among included studies was assessed using Cochran’s Q test. A subgroup analysis was performed to evaluate whether differences in pooled estimates between different study sites. Publication bias was assessed by visualizing funnel plot asymmetry and using Egger’s test. Among 741 studies identified by literature searching, 12 studies of a total of 2900 patients with severe malaria, in 7 Thai hospitals, met the eligibility criteria. Results of meta-analyses showed that the signs of the severity of malaria with the highest prevalence in Thailand were jaundice (54%), hyperparasitemia (47%), impaired consciousness/coma (21%), acidosis (18%), renal impairment (13%), shock (10%), convulsions (9%), severe anemia (8%), pulmonary edema/acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) (8%), hypoglycemia (4%), and bleeding/disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) (2%). The signs of the severity of malaria that made up the highest proportion of all signs of severity identified in the Thai population with malaria were hyperparasitemia (33%), jaundice (33%), impaired consciousness/coma (12%), acidosis (9%), renal impairment (7%), severe anemia (6%), convulsions (5%), shock (5%), pulmonary edema/ARDS (3%), bleeding/DIC (1%), and hypoglycemia (1%). The present study revealed the prevalence of signs of severity identified in the Thai population with malaria. Jaundice, hyperparasitemia, and impaired consciousness/coma were the most common signs of severity identified. These results may inform the management of patients with severe malaria and promote malaria-elimination efforts in Thailand. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Impact of Parasitology on Public Health)
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