Associate Professor Michelle Power discusses her expertise in the study of host-parasite associations in wildlife, with particular emphasis on protozoan parasites.
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The flying fox (i.e. fruit bat) is one of the world’s largest bats, and in Sydney, Australia, thousands of them can be found hanging from the trees in even the most urbanized parts of the city. Most of us are familiar with the idea that viruses can be transferred from these and other animals to humans, but what can be said about how the process might work in the opposite direction? In other words, what types of parasites and bacteria may be picked up by bats and other wildlife as the result of humans in their environment?
These questions involve the concept of reverse zoonosis, which comprises one of Power’s primary research interests. She and the research team in the biology department at Macquarie University work on a suite of different organisms, most of which are associated with the gut, such as cryptosporidium and giardia. Both of these parasites are transmissible through the water and can therefore travel through the environment.
As a result, they can be picked up by wildlife through drinking water or through interactions during rehabilitation and/or long-term captivity. Power is also researching malarial parasites and antibiotic-resistant bacteria, a global health concern for humans that may or may not be making its way into wildlife.
Check out https://researchers.mq.edu.au/en/persons/michelle-power to learn more.
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