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Molecular epidemiology: A multidisciplinary approach to understanding parasitic zoonoses

Elsevier BV
Publication Date
  • Biology
  • Design
  • Medicine


Sound application of molecular epidemiological principles requires working knowledge of both molecular biological and epidemiological methods. Molecular tools have become an increasingly important part of studying the epidemiology of infectious agents. Molecular tools have allowed the aetiological agent within a population to be diagnosed with a greater degree of efficiency and accuracy than conventional diagnostic tools. They have increased the understanding of the pathogenicity, virulence, and host-parasite relationships of the aetiological agent, provided information on the genetic structure and taxonomy of the parasite and allowed the zoonotic potential of previously unidentified agents to be determined. This review describes the concept of epidemiology and proper study design, describes the array of currently available molecular biological tools and provides examples of studies that have integrated both disciplines to successfully unravel zoonotic relationships that would otherwise be impossible utilising conventional diagnostic tools. The current limitations of applying these tools, including cautions that need to be addressed during their application are also discussed.

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