‘Asian Research Forum on Emerging and Reemerging Infections—2007’ held in Nagasaki
06 April 2007 (Volume 2 Issue 4)
Emerging and reemerging infections are now causing great concern because of the threat they pose to public health. Rapid social and environmental changes, such as forest destruction, which increases the opportunity for human contact with wild animals, the globalization of goods, and the increased distances people travel, ever more frequently, are assumed to be causing these infections to emerge.
On January 15 and 16, the RIKEN Center of Research Network for Infectious Diseases and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology held an international conference called ‘the Asian Research Forum on Emerging and Reemerging Infections—2007’ in Nagasaki. Researchers from four of the research centers in Thailand, Vietnam, China, and Japan, and special guests from abroad and from internal institutions reported their recent research outputs. ‘Mosquito-borne Infections’ was one of the focuses in the forum.
The following reports attracted particular attention: Roger Nasci from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USA, showed how West Nile virus (WNV) has been on an inexorable march west and south through the USA, and has brought serious social damage since 1999. According to Nasci, this has been due to the rapid growth of the virus, the very high rate of infection from mosquitoes to birds, the absence of immunity against WNV in North American birds, and the ability of WNV to survive the winter inside mosquito eggs.
Thomas Wellems from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases reported the comprehensive genomics of the malaria parasite, including identification of the point mutation of the pumping membrane protein that is responsible for resistance to an anti-malarial drug, chloroquine, and the genes determining the parasite’s virulence. He further addressed human genetic polymorphism, which affects the severity of the disease.
Vu Sinh Nam from the Vietnam Administration of Preventive Medicine reported the usefulness of predacious copepods of a genus, Mesocyclops, to prey on mosquito larvae that are dengue vectors. They found this greatly reduced the number of mosquitos for the five years from 1998. Their strategy originated with community-based research in Eastern Asia. It is sustainable in Vietnam and can also be applied in other regions.
Almost 200 participants not only listened eagerly to the presentations, but also showed avid interest in the 45 posters with many enthusiastic discussions taking place.