Berkeley Schistosomiasis Group
Origins of the Project
In 1993 Bob Spear and Berkeley doctoral student Zhou Yi met in Beijing with Dr. Gu Xueguang, then Director of the Schistosomiasis Division of the Sichuan Institute of Parasitic Disease (SIPD), to discuss potential collaborative work relating to the control of schistosomiasis in Sichuan. The initial focus of the work was to be on mathematical modeling of the transmission dynamics of the disease using a large data set the SIPD was developing in Chuanxing Township of Xichang County. As the project developed, the first objective was to gain an understanding of the cause of the great differences in prevalence and intensity of infection between endemic villages in this region despite their geographical proximity and similar agriculture.
Because much of the Chuanxing data set contained location data, and in view of the paucity of local maps, we pioneered the use of the Global Positioning System, geographic information systems, and remote sensing to better record and analyze these data as well as to acquire data not easily collected by traditional methods. The use of these technologies has now become standard in our work but, as the publication record shows, their development and application were an important element of our early work as were the modeling studies originally envisioned.
While the initial objectives of the project related to endemic transmission of schistosomiasis and its control, economic development in China and a new national emphasis on the control of infectious diseases resulted in widespread drug treatment of populations at risk and the use of the molluscicide niclosamide for snail control. Hence, the bulk of our publications relate to the initial focus of understanding the epidemiological and environmental determinants of endemic transmission. However, the more recent concern the current challenge, the transition from low transmission to the elimination of the disease in China.