Australian ecosystems, capricious food chains and parasitic consequences for people

Int J Parasitol. 2005 Jun;35(7):717-24. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpara.2005.01.014. Epub 2005 Mar 29.


Characteristic Australian ecosystems or environments contain numerous food chains some of which may become capriciously side-tracked or appropriated by humans, with parasitic consequences for people in Australia and overseas. Twelve of 13 arboviruses affecting humans are of wildlife origin and all are transmitted by mosquitoes. In this case, transmission is thus associated with aquatic environments, many artificial. Zoonotic trematode (brachylaimiasis) and cestode (rodentoleposis) infections have been reported from semi-arid environments. Scabies and angiostrongylosis are associated with work, recreational and home environments. Four species of Rickettsia endemic in wildlife are acquired by humans from fleas, mites and ticks in bush and semi-urban environments. The enigmatic and life-threatening muspiceoid nematode, Haycocknema perplexum, is known from people associated with the natural environment in Tasmania; whether it comes from vertebrates, invertebrates, plants, soil or water is unknown. Food chains occurring in a range of Australian ecosystems and environments, some associated with feeding arthropods, others with accidental ingestion of invertebrates, may result in human exposure and infection. A range of organisms normally occurring in wildlife, domestic animals or the environment may be involved in causing human disease.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Domestic
  • Animals, Wild
  • Arthropods
  • Australia
  • Ecosystem*
  • Food Chain*
  • Host-Parasite Interactions
  • Humans
  • Invertebrates
  • Parasitic Diseases / transmission*
  • Tasmania
  • Zoonoses