Can Liver Fluke Infection Risk be Modeled?

Authors: Yi-Chen Wang*, National University of Singapore
Topics: Medical and Health Geography, Human-Environment Geography, Geographic Information Science and Systems
Keywords: helminth infection, spatial epidemiology, disease ecology, human behavior, infectious disease
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Tyler, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Infections with the liver fluke Opisthorchis viverrini (Ov) is a major public health problem in Southeast Asia, particularly in the Mekong region. This foodborne parasite has infected an estimate of 10 million people in the region through the consumption of raw or undercooked freshwater fish. Decades of efforts have been devoted to diagnosis and control of Ov infection – while valuable in many regards and responsible for many achievements – there remains a marked spatial variation in Ov infection. This necessitates the incorporation of geographic concepts and approaches to scrutinize the intricate human–environment system that favors Ov transmission in the region. Geospatial modeling approach has been proven useful to study the distribution and underlying risk factors of other diseases, but such modeling effort is still rudimentary for foodborne parasitic infection. This study thus examines the current mapping and modelling efforts on liver fluke infection. Drawing upon field work experiences in northeast Thailand, uncertainties and issues for modeling liver fluke infection risks are discussed in relation to the three hosts of the parasite (i.e., Bithynia snail, cyprinid fish, and human) and their connectivities. Despite the challenges, geospatial modeling of liver fluke infection risks has the potential to inform policy and guide research for the parasitic infection control and elimination. Hence, geospatial concepts should be embedded in liver fluke research, and in the planning and evaluation of interventions from the outset.

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