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UNF public health partners with local high school student on published report on parasites

The University of North Florida Brooks College of Health teamed up with a high school student at Stanton College Preparatory School in a collaborative research project that looked at the role of insect vectors in the transmission of parasites.

In a rare and unique opportunity for a pre-college student, Avi Patel, a senior at Stanton College Preparatory School, was the lead author on the project. He worked with Dr. Amber Barnes, UNF Assistant Professor in Public Health; Kelly Rhoden, Master’s in Public Health (MPH) student and UNF Institute of Environmental Research and Education coordinator; and Meg Jenkins, a recent MPH graduate from UNF.

The study found that a collaborative One Health research and intervention approach is needed to combat the spread of zoonotic enteric parasites (ZEPs) through insect vectors such as filth flies, cockroaches and dung beetles. ZEPs pose serious health risks to humans and animals and are found worldwide.

The study examined a total of 85 articles published globally from 1926 to 2021 which documented ZEPs in one or more of these vectors to provide effectual One Health recommendations for curbing their spread among people, animals, and the environment. Prominent risk factors for transmission discovered in the review included poor household and community water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services, unsafe food handling, and exposure to domestic animals and wildlife. These and other risk factors outlined in the study significantly increase the risk for parasitic transmission and zoonoses if personal, domestic or food hygiene safety measures are not met.

The researchers found the risk of insect vector transmission in our shared environments makes it critically important to implement a One Health approach in reducing ZEP transmission. A joint approach is vital to tackle these complex exposure pathways using experts and stakeholders in the disciplines of public health, epidemiology, veterinary sciences, biology, medical entomology, environmental health and more for targeted public and veterinary health messages for the prevention and control of zoonotic enteric parasites in our homes and communities.

Read “A Systematic Review of Zoonotic Enteric Parasites Carried by Flies, Cockroaches, and Dung Beetles” in the Journal “Pathogens.”