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Parasitology Research in China

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Parasitic diseases used to be and are still major threats to the health of people and livestock in China. In 1940s and 1950s during the Second World War, civil war and shortly after the establishment of the new government, parasitic diseases were highly prevalent in China, causing enormous socioeconomical ...

Parasitic diseases used to be and are still major threats to the health of people and livestock in China. In 1940s and 1950s during the Second World War, civil war and shortly after the establishment of the new government, parasitic diseases were highly prevalent in China, causing enormous socioeconomical problems. It was estimated that there were more than 70 million patients with malaria, schistosomiasis or filariasis at that time. In 1956 the new government initiated programs to eliminate schistosomiasis, malaria, leishmaniasis, filariasis and hookworm diseases. With such efforts, these diseases were well controlled by 1990s, although not completely eradicated.

Continued efforts also made significant achievements in controlling other parasitic diseases. The prevalences of major human parasitic diseases were reduced from 62%, which was estimated during the first national survey carried out between 1988 and 1992, to 22.18% according to the data released from the second national survey completed in 2004. Although significant progress has been made, parasitic diseases remain a serious problem in China. Recent surveys suggest that the prevalences of some foodborne parasites such as Toxoplasma, Trichinella and Clonorchis sinensis, are gradually increasing, likely as a consequence of the changing dietary habits and lifestyles.

Neoemerging and reemerging parasitic diseases, such as cryptosporidiosis, represent new threats to people's health and livestock industry. In addition, with the developments of the farming systems, economical losses caused by parasitic diseases became more and more obvious. For example, chicken coccidiosis caused by Eimeria species leads to billions of dollars' losses each year, yet the treatment and prevention options are very limited. Therefore, we are still far away from winning the battle of fighting parasitic infections and a lot more work is needed to make parasitic diseases under control.

China has a large group of scientists studying different aspects of parasitic diseases, yet their work and findings are not always easily accessible to international colleagues. In addition to a number of more comprehensive journals, there are at least 6 Chinese journals that only publish research work related to parasites and parasitic diseases. Some of these articles have significant impact to the research field but they cannot be accessed by people who do not understand Chinese. One example would be the discovery the artemisinin, very few people knew the details of its discovery until years later. From the perspective of "one world, one health", it is very important to have the work of Chinese parasitologists accessible to their international colleagues. For this reason we propose this research topic for Frontiers in Microbiology, hoping to draw the attention of Chinese parasitologists to publish their work and other scientists in this community to learn about the related work from China. We welcome original research, as well as comprehensive review articles.


Keywords: Parasites, Parasitic Diseases, Zoonotic diseases, One Health, China


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