The research objective of the U-SMRC is to develop a comprehensive understanding of the biological drivers of severe schistosomal morbidity, with three specific aims:
- Schistosomiasis is a major parasitic cause of global morbidity and mortality. Schistosoma mansoni (Sm) is highly prevalent in Uganda. In 2016-17, surveys estimated 25% of the population to be infected and 50% at risk. Most cases are found around the Great Lakes and River Nile.
- The Ministry of Health’s Vector Control Division (VCD), responsible for schistosomiasis control, has long been concerned about extreme disease severity among populations living beside Lake Albert and the Albert Nile in West and Northern Uganda (LA region), compared to those of the Lake Victoria (LV region) in Central and Eastern Uganda.
- This is despite comparable high prevalence, infection intensity, and mass praziquantel treatment efforts in the two settings. To understand the mechanisms underlying this geographic difference in morbidity, we will directly compare representative, highly exposed populations in the two settings.
To compare early-life Schistosoma mansoni (Sm) infection and Sm-specific immune responses between Lake Albert (LA) and Lake Victoria (LV) regions and identify co-exposures that modulate Sm-specific immune responses and morbidity risk.
Determine if there is a parasite genetic basis to differential Sm morbidity and establish a platform for local genetic surveillance of schistosome parasites in Uganda and determine whether there is a parasite genetic basis to differences in clinical outcomes in LA and LV.
Determine how the population biological determinants of fresh-water snail Biomphalaria spp. act as local epidemiological drivers of Sm, filtering its diversity within and between LA and LV ecosystems.