Evaluating corralling and the effect of dung beetles on transmission and control of cysticercosis

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? DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Cysticercosis is an emerging public health and economic problem around the world, causing debilitating brain infection in humans, widespread compromises in food safety and important economic losses from contaminated meat. It is caused by the pork tapeworm, Taenia solium, a zoonotic parasite that infects both humans and pigs. Infection of the human brain is responsible for 30% of epilepsy in Latin America, Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Although cysticercosis is one of only seven diseases considered to be potentially eradicable, significant gaps in our knowledge of how T. solium is transmitted between hosts threatens the effectiveness and sustainability of control and elimination programs. We will conduct a controlled cluster randomized trial in Peru to evaluate the role that dung beetles play in parasite transmission. We will introduce 3 distinct cohorts of sentinel seronegative piglets int an endemic community to evaluate differences in both cysticercosis seroincidence and infection. Each of the 3 cohorts will be exposed to distinct risk environments. Cohort one will raised in standard corrals (exposed to dung beetles but protected from direct access to human feces); cohort two will be raised in netted corrals (protected from dung beetles and direct access to human feces); cohort three will be allowed to roam free using the scavenging method of pig-production typical of the region (exposed to both dung beetles and direct access to human feces). Pigs will be followed for a period of 9 months during which serology will be monitored monthly for development of cysticercosis antibodies. Following the 9 month period, the cyst burden of each animal will be quantified through fine necropsy. We will also trap dung beetles monthly in all of the study environments, and will dissect the beetles to quantify the number of T. solium eggs carried within the intestinal tract. This study will determine the extent to which dung beetles are involved in the transmission of T. solium. If the results confirm that dung beetles play a significant role in parasite transmission, this will have profound implications on design and conduct of control and elimination strategies around the world.
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