According to Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese military general, strategist and author of Art of War, the key to winning a battle, is knowing your enemy. And clearly, for those who are trying to eliminate some of the most devastating parasitic diseases known to humans and animals, understanding what makes parasites and their vectors tick [pun intended] AND disseminating this knowledge is crucial in the ‘war’.
In October 2013, a group of parasitologists set out on a quest to create a forum where the latest research, news and events concerning parasites (and of course their vectors) can be brought to our attention fast and that is how BugBitten was born… and today we are celebrating its first birthday.
Right from the start, BugBitten was in the thick of things, reporting on the outbreak of dengue in Florida (confirming that the disease had once more returned to the state) and the re-emergence of tick-borne diseases to the United States.
In December, Bugbitten went festive (albeit in a morbid way) with a look at the parasitic threats lurking in your Christmas tree and dinner. If you had been dreaming of a white Christmas, you wouldn’t be after reading about how a blanket of snow can be quite snug for some insects like the Asian Tiger mosquito. Even Rudolph could not escape the BugBitten treatment.
Several guest writers have contributed to BugBitten in its first year, including: Julian Pelletier of Keele University who has highlighted several recent advances in our understanding of mosquito behaviour; Rod Dillon of Lancaster University describing how the leishmania parasite protects its vector host, the sandfly, against a lethal bacterial pathogen; and Edmundo Grisard and Patricia Stocco from UFSC (Florianópolis) in Brazil showing that a non-pathogenic parasite can help us understand a related pathogenic parasite.
In its first year, BugBitten has provided some memorable articles, but what has been the most popular? Bizarrely, it is the report on swimmer’s itch – a warning to us all not to go jumping into lakes to cool off in the summer (alas, watching Mr Darcy jump into the lake won’t be quite the same again).