Listen: How managing hookworms in dogs prevents infections of humans

Professor Rebecca Traub’s research over the last decade has been instrumental in demonstrating that the dog hookworm Ancylostoma ceylanicum commonly infects people throughout the Asia Pacific. The parasite spreads between dogs and people through ingestion or penetration of the worm’s larvae through the skin.

It is one of many zoonotic parasites that make the move between humans and other animals, causing a range of health and socioeconomic burdens.

Professor Rebecca Traub
Professor Rebecca Traub (left) receives the Bancroft-Mackerras Medal for Excellence from Professor Una Ryan, President of the Australian Society for Parasitology..

In this online seminar, "Pets, people and parasites: Dog health programs for the prevention of human hookworm infections in the Asia Pacific", Professor Traub discusses innovative health management methods being deployed by her group against potentially debilitating parasites of humans and animals.

Although the contribution of A. ceylanicum to human health has not been studied on a population scale, sporadic case reports suggest that the dog hookworm can produce symptoms of abdominal pain, diarrhoea, gastrointestinal bleeding, and anaemia in chronic infections. Gastrointestinal worms such as roundworms, whipworms, threadworms and hookworms are an enormous health burden in resource poor communities in our region, and the World Health Organization’s 2020 Roadmap for eliminating the morbidity associated with these infections has resulted in significant scaling up of global mass deworming programs in the Asia-Pacific.

With the growing recognition of A. ceylanicum as the second most common hookworm of humans in this region, the importance of appropriate diagnosis and implementation of concurrent dog health programs will prove vital in ensuring this emerging zoonosis remains sustainably controlled.

This event was part of the Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences’ Dean’s Research Seminars.

The Dean’s Research Seminars aim to showcase the breadth, aims, importance and impact of research being undertaken across the Faculty to a non-specialist audience. They are open to all staff and students.

You can watch or listen to Professor Traub's online seminar below.

Professor Traub graduated from Murdoch University in 1997 and worked in companion animal practice until 2002. She was awarded her PhD from Murdoch University on canine parasitic zoonoses in tea-growing communities of northeast India, for which she was awarded the John Adrian Sprent Prize by the Australian Society for Parasitology. She was subsequently awarded an ARC Postdoctoral Fellowship to continue her work on canine parasitic zoonosees in Thailand.

In 2014, she gained a Research at Melbourne Accelerator Program (RAMAP) appointment at the University of Melbourne. She was promoted to Professor of Veterinary Parasitology in 2018. In 2019, she received the Bancroft-Mackerras Medal of Excellence from the Australian Society for Parasitology.

In 2015, Professor Traub founded the Tropical Council for Companion Animal Parasites, a non-for-profit company that aims to independently develop and promote guidelines for the diagnosis, treatment and control of companion animal parasites in the tropics.

Her research continues to cover the field of veterinary public health, with a focus on the diagnosis and epidemiology of zoonotic soil transmitted helminth infections and canine vector-borne diseases in the Asia Pacific.

Banner image: Professor Rebecca Traub (right) treats a dog in Cambodia.