Multihost multiparasite systems are evolutionarily and ecologically dynamic, which presents substantial trans‐disciplinary challenges for elucidating their epidemiology and designing appropriate control. Evidence for hybridizations and introgressions between parasite species is gathering, in part in line with improvements in molecular diagnostics and genome sequencing. One major system where this is becoming apparent is within the Genus Schistosoma, where schistosomiasis represents a disease of considerable medical and veterinary importance, the greatest burden of which occurs in sub‐Saharan Africa. Interspecific hybridizations and introgressions bring an increased level of complexity over and above that already inherent within multihost, multiparasite systems, also representing an additional source of genetic variation that can drive evolution. This has the potential for profound implications for the control of parasitic diseases, including, but not exclusive to, widening host range, increased transmission potential and altered responses to drug therapy. Here, we present the challenging case example of haematobium group Schistosoma spp. hybrids in West Africa, a system involving multiple interacting parasites and multiple definitive hosts, in a region where zoonotic reservoirs of schistosomiasis were not previously considered to be of importance.
This work arises from the Zoonoses and Emerging Livestock Systems (ZELS) programme.
Borlase A, Webster J, Rudge J (2017). Opportunities and challenges for modelling epidemiological and evolutionary dynamics in a multihost, multiparasite system: Zoonotic hybrid schistosomiasis in West Africa. Evolutionary Applications 11(4): 501-515
Opportunities and challenges for modelling epidemiological and evolutionary dynamics in a multihost, multiparasite system: Zoonotic hybrid schistosomiasis in West Africa