Schistosomiasis is one of the most important neglected tropical diseases, impacting over 240 million people and untold billions of animals globally.

Schistosomiasis is caused by a parasitic worm and causes severe chronic illness and even death. Transmitted from infected freshwater, as a zoonotic disease, its transmission between humans and other species is of critical concern in managing global responses.

The team at the RVC’s Centre for Emerging, Endemic and Exotic Diseases have been critical in leading a One Health approach to understanding and tackling this condition, through ensuring consideration of its impacts on, and targeted effective dose-controlled treatment of, both humans and domestic livestock. The group’s work across Africa and Asia has also demonstrated that wildlife reservoirs can be sufficient to sustain ongoing schistosomiasis transmission in humans, despite intensive disease control measures.

The RVC’s team works with a range of stakeholders both locally within each disease-endemic country, and globally, including with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and has contributed critical evidence to informing new policies.

To achieve the newly revised global goal of ‘Elimination of Schistosomiasis as a Public Health Problem’ and ultimately ‘Interruption of Transmission in selected regions’ by 2030, our team continues to work in this field and a number of new activities have been initiated, including that of developing a new livestock-specific lateral flow test that will provide a critical tool for decision-makers and veterinary health services at international, national and community levels. These tools will enable targeted interventions that will both help control schistosomiasis disease and transmission whilst at the same time minimizing the potential risk of emerging resistance to praziquantel, the only currently available treatment.

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