Paediatric Schistosomiasis: indirect, long-term impacts on health

Year of award: 2015


  • Dr Francisca Mutapi

    University of Edinburgh

Project summary

In 2013, more than 60% of deaths and a massive burden of disease in children under the age of five years in sub-Saharan Africa were due to infections. However, individual responses to infection are highly variable and risk factors predisposing children to death and disease remain poorly understood. Potentially life-saving interventions that can reduce or remove risk factors may have been overlooked. A plausible risk factor is chronic infection with human schistosomes. Infection with these parasites causes schistosomiasis, the second most important parasitic disease in sub-Saharan Africa. In addition to direct local and systemic pathological effects, schistosome infection also exacerbates pathology and alters overall host immune phenotype and physiology. It is therefore surprising that the indirect, long-term effects of schistosome infection on host health remain un-investigated.

This project aims to optimise novel and innovative systems biology assays for assessing host health status including infection, clinical presentation of disease and response to vaccination. The project will act as a pilot for a larger study combining epidemiological investigations of schistosome infection in young children as a risk factor for subsequent death or disease due to other causes with investigations of altered progression of a range of infectious and non-infectious diseases.