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Andrew Thompson is a Professor of Parasitology at Murdoch University who joins the show to discuss the ins and outs of his research on parasites.

In this episode, you will learn:

  • How parasites can change and/or be introduced as a result of human involvement
  • How the recreational pursuit of fox hunting and domestication of horses led to an artificial parasitic cycle (hydatid disease) in the UK
  • What mechanisms certain parasites have developed to help them survive in their hosts

Thompson’s work on parasitic diseases began many years ago, when taking a class on invertebrate zoology. One project in particular struck his interest: the role of the dwarf tapeworm in mice. Since then, his research has gone far beyond tapeworms.

In recent years, the focus has been on parasites of wildlife—particularly those that may have conservation effects. In other words, parasites that normally don’t cause much of a problem without the impact of human involvement and man-made domestic cycles.

He gives a number of fascinating examples, and discusses the studies which led to these findings. He discusses the progression of hydatid disease in humans and domestic animals, surgical removal as an intervention, what can be done to prevent it, and much more.

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