With Zika infection numbers falling but still threatening, cholera exploding in Yemen and East Africa, and an obscure mosquito-borne disease possibly on the move in South America, thousands of disease experts from around the world will gather in Baltimore in November for the 66th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. The conference provides a vital forum for sharing the latest research and strategies for tackling some of the world's most dangerous diseases.
Kicking off the meeting is keynote speaker Paul Farmer, MD, PhD, a physician and medical anthropologist who is Co-founder and Chief Strategist for Partners in Health (PIH). Farmer's expertise in the science, policy, advocacy and ground-level logistics of fighting major threats to global health has helped elevate and energize efforts to address health disparities in the world's poorest countries. Farmer will speak about "Reconsidering the West African Ebola Epidemic: A Physician-Anthropologist's View."
Also featured at #TropMed17 is a plenary address: "Ending the HIV/AIDS Pandemic: A Feasible Goal" by Anthony Fauci, MD, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) at the National Institutes of Health. Fauci has been at the forefront of numerous public health challenges, including the HIV/AIDs pandemic, the anthrax attacks post-9/11, and the fights against Ebola, Zika, and the 2009 flu pandemic.
This year's scientific presentations include the latest research into Zika threats to pregnancy beyond microcephaly; reports on new tools urgently needed to fight cholera outbreaks in Yemen, East Africa and Haiti; and insights into a debilitating new mosquito-borne virus breaking out in South America. (More details below.)
WHAT: The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene 66th Annual Meeting
WHEN: November 5-9, 2017 (Sunday through Thursday)
WHERE: The Baltimore Convention Center
KEYNOTE: Paul Farmer, MD, PhD, Co-Founder & Chief Strategist, Partners in Health Reconsidering the West African Ebola Epidemic: A Physician-Anthropologist's View
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Selected Highlights of the 2017 ASTMH Annual Meeting:
Collaring Cholera: With alarming cholera outbreaks in Yemen and the Horn of Africa intensifying and Haiti still facing risks linked to the 2010 earthquake, scientists will report on efforts to develop new tools to fight this horrible intestinal disease that can kill within hours of the onset of symptoms.
A Malaria Menagerie: The world's largest gathering of malaria researchers will feature a range of critically important presentations, including: research from Africa probing new ways malaria parasites could develop resistance to the only malaria medication that is still largely effective across the continent; reports on experiments using the gene editing tool CRISPER-Cas9 to carve out genetic resistance to malaria parasites in the mosquitos that carry them; research that could lead to a sort of breathalyzer for detecting malaria; and new evidence on vaccine candidates, both those that seek to prevent the disease in humans and novel approaches that prevent mosquitoes from transmitting malaria parasites.
There's a Robot for That: Scientists who track mosquito-borne diseases are turning to robots. Researchers report on efforts to develop a robot that can capture mosquitoes and quickly identify the species. This robot could transform efforts to track mosquitoes that carry diseases like dengue, Zika, malaria and West Nile virus.
Maggot Medicine: New research exploring how a once peculiar folk medicine technique -- using fly larva to treat wounds -- could actually lead scientists to a new way to fight bacterial infections, and at a time when many microbes are developing resistance to antibiotics.
A Deeper Dive into Zika's Health Risks: Scientists will report on research into other pregnancy dangers that may be linked to the disease and on how long men remain capable of sexually transmitting Zika after infection.
Hunting the Next Mosquito-borne Threat: Scientists will report on new studies examining the potential spread of another dangerous mosquito-borne virus once thought to exist only in remote areas of Peru. What to make of the emergence of recombinant Mayaro virus strains from the Amazon? Could it be on the move? And how likely is it to become a global threat?
Mystery Deepens for Mesoamerican Neuropathy: An epidemic of a dangerous chronic kidney disease that has spread among young farm laborers in Central America continues to confound. Researchers will report on new evidence that may help lead to the culprit.
Hunting Tigers in Connecticut: Scientists will report results from recent efforts to track the Asian tiger mosquito, which can carry a number of diseases, as it expands northward into New England, aided in part by warmer winters.
If It's Not Ebola: Ebola virus disease is not the only hemorrhagic fever causing concern in West Africa. There's also Lassa fever, which can present with symptoms similar to Ebola. While less deadly on a case-by-case basis, Lassa fever, which is spread by a type of rodent found across West Africa, is far more common than Ebola and kills thousands every year. Experts will offer their latest assessments on numbers of people infected and new tools for fighting the disease.
Quest Continues for Vaccine Against Traveler's Diarrhea: Researchers will report on efforts to improve a vaccine candidate against a common form of diarrhea caused by the bacteria virulent Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli, or ETEC. They expect to have results from a human challenge trial in which volunteers are given the vaccine and then deliberately infected, or "challenged," with ETEC.
Chikungunya in Pregnancy: A research team in the Caribbean will report on a new study examining the impact of chikungunya virus on fetal and neonatal health. Related: updates on a Phase 2 trial of a chikungunya vaccine candidate.
Spitting Image of a Disease: Tracking the presence of a disease in a community is critical to controlling its spread, but when confirmation requires blood samples, it can be an arduous and expensive task. Researchers will report on their efforts to develop a test for Chagas disease that only requires saliva.
About the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene
The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, founded in 1903, is the largest international scientific organization of experts dedicated to reducing the worldwide burden of tropical infectious diseases and improving global health. It accomplishes this through generating and sharing scientific evidence, informing health policies and practices, fostering career development, recognizing excellence, and advocating for investment in tropical medicine/global health research. For more information, visit astmh.org.