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the worm will turn

Thu Dec 15 08:12:28 EST 1994

Let's keep the pot boiling, or at least simmering, on the aspect of 
training and availability of jobs for parasitologists.  One person 
commented about the downsizing of parasitology courses in the 
professional curricula.  Another commented about not replacing 
parasitologists with parasitologists but with persons with other 
skills.  This is happening all over the U.S. and so I gather in 
Australia.  But, what is going on in the real world of parasitology 
is different.  For example, in our Clinical Parasitology laboratory 
we are seeing an upsurge of parasites occupying new hosts.  During 
the past year, we have frequently diagnosed Giardiasis in cattle 
(predominately) as well as other herbivores.  In the past, we saw 
giardiasis routinely in dogs and cats, but why the upsurge in 
herbivores?  We also have seen massive infections of Entamoeba bovis 
in white-tailed deer (captive and free-living) and in cattle 
(multiple herds).  These animals had soft to loose stools - was this 
caused by E. bovis, which supposedly is a non-pathogen?  Who knows?
Also, Cryptosporidium has become a major cause of morbidity (and 
mortality) in livestock and humans, and now the EPA wants water 
supplies tested for Crypto and Giardia.  Who is going to diagnose 
these infections??  the lab technicians??  Who is going to train 
I hear reports of resistance to certain drugs by parasites of 
veterinary importance.  Our livestock owners and large animal 
clinicians place lots of emphasis on drugs, rather than pre-worm 
diagnosis.  Indiscriminate deworming of animals enhances the 
pocketbook but it certainly contributes to drug resistance.  What can 
we expect with our courses downsized even more?  
With the suggestion that veterinary parasitologists may be elitist, 
perhaps that is true.  I can assure you, however, that when one who 
is a veterinarian works in a veterinary school with clinicians 
and with students, their credibiity is significantly higher than the 
person who does not have a DVM degree.  Of course, the same is true in 
medical schools, but there little emphasis is placed on parasitic 
I guess the point that I'm trying to make is that we are rapidly 
approaching the time that there will be no one out there who can 
identify and diagnose parasitic diseases and who can do the life 
cycles and epidemiology, etc.  Maybe the trend will shift back to the 
more basic things in science by then.  In other words, the worm will 
Katherine Prestwood
College of Veterinary Medicine
The University of Georgia
Athens, GA 30602
email prestwood.a at calc.vet.uga.edu

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