I attended the 12th International Congress of Parasitology (ICOPA) Conference in the summer of 2010 in Melbourne, Australia. The main theme of the conference was “Understanding the Global Impact of Parasites: from genomes to function and disease.” Over 1700 scientists in the field of parasitology from all over the world participated in this conference.
Most of the attendees are scientists working for governments, universities, international health organizations, and research institutions. Very few medical doctors in private practice were in attendance.
The first lecture was “Conquering Parasitic Diseases: the Time has Come” by Sir Gustav Nossal from Australia. The magnitude of the global impact of parasites for morbidity and mortality is so profound that he called for the will of the people to demand that governments combat global parasite related problems. But, how? He works as a consultant for the World Health Organization and for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The conference covered broad topics including genomes, pharmacology, vector biology, neurobiology, immunology, and climate changes. It also addressed specific parasitic problems including a heavy emphasis on malaria, flukes, ectoparasites, and other neglected parasitic diseases.
Most of the speakers focused on parasite problems in third world such as those in Africa, India, the Northern Territory of Australia, and in south Asia. Somehow, North America and Europe are not of concern as if parasite problems in these areas are not an urgent issue and are under control. But, are they really under control?
Numerous speakers addressed common multiple coinfections, the need to change medications frequently because of the ability of parasites to develop resistance, and the need for higher doses in different combinations to eradicate parasites.
Medical research to discover a new generation of medications based on pharmacogenomics is designed to tailor drugs to specific individual genomes in order to combat resistance to parasite medications. Until new parasite medications are developed, the motto is to cycle different combinations of parasite medications, in higher doses, for longer periods of time.
Simon Brooker‘s lecture, “Mapping the Global Distribution of Human Parasitism”, discussed Normal Stoll’s landmark article published in 1947 called This Wormy World. This lecture asked the question, “Just how much human parasite activity is there in the world?” The answer lies in billions and billions.
Another lecture, on Flukes, addressed how the “Silk Road” plays an important role for spreading Flukes (Fasciola gigantica) from the Middle East to the Far East. The Silk Road is an important route to spread parasites globally! In today’s jet age, I flew on a giant double deck Airbus 380 to Sydney and flew out of Melbourne on a Boeing 747.
In this modern age, do you think parasite problems are limited to third world countries and don’t exist in the United States, Canada or Europe? Think again! Who does the cooking and cleaning of dishes at restaurants? Food from all over the world comes with no strict regulations for pesticides, herbicides and potential parasite eggs embedded in the food.
I have seen patients from Germany, Canada, Australia and most of the United States. People from all over have parasite problems. I’ve written numerous articles on parasites and parasite related unusual medical symptoms. Some of the conditions responding to parasite medications include allergies, eczema, asthma, migraine headache, nightmare, bedwetting, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, arthralgia, multiple sclerosis, irritable bowel syndrome, seizure, mental illness and even cancer.
The idea of deworming everybody seems a de-lovely concept and does not seem appealing but it is not a far out concept even in the United States. Americans are suffering from a silent epidemic of parasite related medical conditions. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends massive de-worming of populations especially in schools whenever over 20 percent of the population is suspected of parasite infestation.
Thanks to the massive global human migration from the Silk Road to modern transcontinental flying of the Boeing 747 and Airbus 380, I would start deworming major cities first like the Washington DC area, New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago. Then, I’d follow it up with Iowa, Florida, Arizona, Texas and Missouri, and on to every state. I hope you get the idea!