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Medtech Impact on Wellness

This podcast offers insight into how scientists keep our best animal friends safe, and in turn, their human companions. Because humans can get parasites from dogs and other animals, we are part of this equation.

Italian scientist Domico Otranto teaches listeners

  • What common parasitic diseases are of concern in the Mediterranean,
  • Which of these have the potential to or have already become parasitic diseases in humans, and
  • What research works best in parasitology to predict patterns and the spread potential of parasitic diseases.

Domenico Otranto (DVM, PhD, Diplomate EVPC, FRES) is a full professor of Animal Parasitic Diseases in the Department of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Bari in southern Italy. While he mainly works on parasites of zoonotic concern, he also concentrates on when these become human parasitic diseases.

This means he studies vector-born diseases that transmit pathogens to vertebrate hosts. Such vectors include flies, ticks, and other bugs and worms that feed on the host and transmit these pathogenic parasites. They often have primary and secondary hosts. Such parasites present a particular problem in Mediterranean regions because of the climate. 

He has a special focus on leashmania, which is transmitted through sand flies. Dogs are the main host for leishmania, but it can also infect cats, rodents, and humans. He explains the challenges to fighting this parasite and explains why prevention of sand fly biting is actually the best approach.

Furthermore, controlling it in dogs is an important step in preventing it in humans. Finally, he places these concerns in a socio economic context. Parasitic diseases are more typically problematic in the poorest countries. Therefore, his work is inspired by a social commitment to improve the quality of life and health in these areas.

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