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Leading Lights 2013

Warwick Medical School Inaugural Lecture Series

Professor Steve Torr

Professor Steve Torr

Date: 21 June 2013

Location: Medical Teaching Centre, Gibbet Hill

Time: Welcome reception starting at 11:00. The lecture will start at 11:30.

Register online

Disease, flies and fatal attractions

Pathogens transmitted by flies cause many of the most important infectious diseases of humans and livestock across the tropics, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. These include malaria spread by mosquitoes, neglected tropical diseases such leishmaniasis, river blindness and sleeping sickness transmitted by sandflies, blackfly and tsetse flies respectively, and veterinary diseases such as animal trypanosomiasis also spread by tsetse. These diseases place a huge constraint on the health and wealth of African people.

Controlling the fly population is often essential to reducing transmission of these diseases. Research on the flies first established their role in the life cycle of the pathogen and has since moved to a broader understanding of how their physiology, behaviour and ecology affect transmission. Insights from this research have provided explanations of not only how disease spreads but also how it might be stopped.

Professor Steve Torr has spent over 30 years working on the behaviour and ecology of tsetse flies which spread sleeping sickness (Human African Trypanosomiasis) and nagana (African Animal Trypanosomiasis).

Field studies, using a wide variety of research methods, have determined how and why tsetse are attracted to particular hosts. The results have led to novel methods of controlling flies by attracting them to lethal baits. These simple and cost-effective technologies have been widely applied to control human and animal trypanosomiasis in many parts of Africa.

Professor Torr will describe how field research on tsetse conducted across Africa has resulted in completely new ways of controlling tsetse-borne diseases, and how lessons learned with tsetse might be applied to other flies.