Ecohealth Research Meeting(FY2019-06)
“Human, Snail, Fish, and Waterscape Interactions: Geographic Investigations of Liver Fluke Infections in Thailand”

Date & Hours: Thursday, July 18, 2019, 14:30 - 16:00
Venue: Seminar Room 3&4, RIHN ( →Access)

Dr. Yi-Chen WANG, Yi-Chen WANG, Department of Geography, National University of Singapore, Singapore

Yi-Chen Wang is an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography, National University of Singapore. She obtained her PhD in Geography from the University at Buffalo, the State University of New York. Her research interests are biogeography, landscape ecology, and spatial epidemiology, particularly focusing on applications of GIS and remote sensing to ecological questions related to spatial and temporal patterns of the landscapes. Her current project focuses on examining the interplay of land use, water, parasitic hosts, and human behavior to comprehend the risk of liver fluke infection in Southeast Asia. Her recent work can be found in Annals of the Association of American Geographers, PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, Remote Sensing of Environment, and Science of The Total Environment.

Language: English
Abstract: Infection with the liver fluke, Opisthorchis viverrini (O.v.), caused by ingesting raw freshwater fish, is an important public health issue in Southeast Asia. Despite decades of medical research, high O.v. prevalence still persists in the Mekong Region. This talk focuses on issues surrounding the spatial variation of O.v. infections in Northeast Thailand. Landscape determinants that influence O.v. transmission are identified as a guiding framework. Broad-scale landscape influences on O.v. prevalence are examined through geospatial analyses of village locations and their land use patterns. Graph measures are employed to quantify the landscape connectivity between the human host and the first intermediate snail host. Effects of water body types on O.v. infections in the second intermediate fish host are scrutinized, and villagers are interviewed for their preferences for raw fish dishes and fish procurement locations. Finally, a cross-sectional survey was conducted with more than 600 villagers from two provinces to examine the influences of physical and social environments on human O.v. infection prevalence and intensity. These geographic investigations of O.v. explore the varying roles of land, water, disease hosts, human behavior, and healthcare intervention in contributing to the disease landscape. The findings provide insights into the physical environmental influences and local healthcare intervention variations on the risks of O.v. infection, in addition to the socio-cultural dynamics commonly explored in existing work.
Contact: Hongwei Jiang E-mail