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American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene's 55th Annual Meeting, Nov. 12-16, 2006

American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene's 55th Annual Meeting

The 55th annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene took place Nov. 12 to 16 in Atlanta. The meeting drew more than 2,400 physicians and researchers from around the world who discussed recent research findings, clinical studies and prevention methods aimed at fighting parasitic, viral and bacterial diseases such as malaria, Ebola and anthrax.

"This year's meeting provided updates on prevention and treatment for some of today's leading global health threats," said Edward Ryan, M.D., of the Tropical and Geographic Medicine Center at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and the meeting's scientific chair. "This interchange among researchers and scientists is crucial in allowing us to translate basic and field research into meaningful and life-saving interventions."

Malaria topics included vaccine development and new control techniques such as the development of genetically modified mosquitoes, Ryan said.

Gregory C. Lanzaro, Ph.D., of the University of California-Davis and director of the new University of California Mosquito Research Program, organized a session entitled "Progress Toward the Development of GM Anopheles gambiae for Malaria Control."

"Progress is being made on all fronts," Lanzaro said. "We have a number of targets and molecules that can be manipulated to modify the mosquitoes' ability to harbor the parasite. It's a matter of designing the right molecule, which is very doable. We're probably right around the corner from having some very effective genes that will interfere with the development of the parasite," he added.

"The ultimate goal is to transform natural populations that are competent vectors of malaria into those that are incapable of transmitting the disease," which is an enormous logistical challenge, Lanzaro explained. Although the widespread introduction of genetically modified mosquitoes is probably 15 to 20 years away, it's possible that a controlled trial could be conducted sooner than that on a malaria-infested island, he said. (Abstract)

Other key topics included the increasing prevalence of tropical diseases such as dengue fever and Chikungunya virus that travelers are bringing back to the United States and emerging infectious diseases along the U.S. and Mexican border, Ryan said.

"Obviously, one of the things that people would be most familiar with who travel to Mexico is the prospect of traveler's diarrhea. That's one a lot of us have experienced," said Sally Finney, M.Ed., the society's executive director.

"But in Mexico and the tropics in general, big threats also include malaria, West Nile virus, tularemia, Rift Valley virus and a whole slew of diseases," Finney added. "Many of these are in the category of 'neglected' tropical diseases because they have not previously been a major focus."

Although some researchers have reported that illegal immigration to the United States has introduced some previously unknown tropical diseases or re-introduced other diseases that were thought to have been eradicated, illegal immigration was not a focus of discussion at the meeting, Finney said.

"Anyone coming in from a tropical area is potentially going to carry some of these diseases, which are not necessarily communicable," she said. "The risk comes in when people travel back and forth to different areas."

ASTMH: Researchers Examine Buggy Creek Virus Reservoirs

FRIDAY, Nov. 17 (HealthDay News) -- The characteristics of cliff swallow colonies and the cimicid parasites that infect the birds can predict the spatial foci of Buggy Creek virus epidemics in the U.S. Midwest, according to research presented this week at the 55th annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in Atlanta.

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ASTMH: Infectious Organism Prevalence Studied in Ticks

FRIDAY, Nov. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Ticks harbor high levels of infectious organisms that can cause tick-borne disease in humans, according to research presented this week at the 55th annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in Atlanta.

Abstract

ASTMH: Leptospirosis Studied in Adventure Racers

FRIDAY, Nov. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Adventure racers who bike, hike and paddle in extreme conditions may have an increased risk of contracting the bacterial infection leptospirosis, according to research presented this week at the 55th annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in Atlanta.

Abstract

ASTMH: Monkeypox Risk Factors Examined

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Animal-to-human transmission of the monkeypox virus is more likely to occur in people who have not been vaccinated against smallpox, according to research presented this week at the 55th annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in Atlanta.

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ASTMH: Pneumonia May Stunt Children's Growth

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Childhood bouts of pneumonia may lead to persistent stunting and weight loss, according to research conducted in Ecuador and presented this week at the 55th annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in Atlanta.

Abstract

ASTMH: Vaccination May Not Always Prevent Hepatitis A

TUESDAY, Nov. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Hepatitis A infection can occur in travelers who go abroad sooner than the recommended 14 days after hepatitis A vaccination, according to research presented this week at the 55th annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in Atlanta.

Abstract

ASTMH: Case of Bubonic Plague Studied in Los Angeles

MONDAY, Nov. 13 (HealthDay News) -- Even in the apparent absence of clear risk factors, bubonic plague can surface in an urban environment, according to research presented this week at the 55th annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in Atlanta.

Abstract

ASTMH: Combo Vaccine Protects Against Hepatitis A and B

MONDAY, Nov. 13 (HealthDay News) -- For travelers who need quick protection from hepatitis A and B, an accelerated schedule for the combined vaccine provides comparable immunogenicity to equivalent monovalent vaccines, according to research presented this week at the 55th annual meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in Atlanta.

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Physician's Briefing

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