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Researcher Rebecca Traub discusses the most prevalent and damaging types of parasites in Australia and Southeast Asia.

She describes

  • How a parasite’s life cycle means that her work as a veterinary parasitologist involves the human animal as well,
  • How hookworms are the cause of a massive level of morbidity despite a simple deworming treatment, and
  • How these worms cause anemia and other bodily trauma and how WHO has tried to combat its impact.

Rebecca Traub is a professor in veterinary parasitology at the University of Melbourne. She’s had a prolific career, with over 130 publications and several book chapters on the veterinary parasitology impact factors in Australia and Southeast Asia. Her work expands beyond cats and dogs and includes any animal impacted by parasites and their life cycles, including human mammals and resulting public health issues.

She explains that parasites use a number of different hosts to stay alive. Therefore, her work can involve wildlife and conservation medicine. As an example, she recounts some work she did to help repopulate an island with the eastern barred bandicoot after an infestation by parasites carried by feral dogs hurt their population.  

The majority of her work now is with zoonoses, or parasites transmitted between animals and humans through various means, but her main focus is on soil-transmitted helminths and tick-borne and flea-borne parasites. She describes one of the most dangerous parasites in the world, a soil-borne parasite called Ancylostoma ceylanicum, which is dropped in the soil from dog feces.

It’s the second most common hookworm in Australia and Southeast Asia and therefore has a tremendous veterinary parasitology impact factor. She explains why it is still a massive problem despite a large-scale effort on WHO’s part to decrease its morbidity. She goes into detail about how these worms harm the human body and possible next steps to decrease its negative impact.

For more, see her university website at pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/individuals/professor-rebecca-traub and search her name in Google Scholar.

Available on Apple Podcasts: apple.co/2Os0myK

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