Tropical Parasitology

: 2016  |  Volume : 6  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 92--93

An E-mail interview with Prof. Shin-ichiro Kawazu


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. An E-mail interview with Prof. Shin-ichiro Kawazu.Trop Parasitol 2016;6:92-93

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. An E-mail interview with Prof. Shin-ichiro Kawazu. Trop Parasitol [serial online] 2016 [cited 2023 Mar 20 ];6:92-93
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Tropical Parasitology (TP): As an eminent expert member of various organizations, please share your views and research experiences in parasitology in context to tick borne diseases.

Prof. Shin-ichiro Kawazu: My interest in parasitology started when I graduated from Kitasato University, School of Veterinary Medicine in Japan with a DVM. I received my Ph.D. degree in Veterinary Medicine from Hokkaido University in 1993. I first joined the Ministry of Agriculture as a research officer on bovine theileriosis and babesiosis at the National Institute of Animal Health, Japan. In this field, my major contribution in the 1990's was the reclassification of benign Theileria species of cattle and water buffalo in Asia done in collaboration with parasitologists from Malaysia, Thailand, Australia, and UK. In 2000, I moved to the Ministry of Health and worked on malaria and other tropical zoonoses for several years. In 2006, I returned to work in the area of veterinary parasitology as a professor at the National Research Center for Protozoan Diseases in Obihiro University. The main goal of our Babesia research is to understand the basic molecular mechanisms of this apicomplexan parasite. Our current approach is the development and application of genetically modified parasite for investigation of host-parasite interaction in this apicomplexan parasite.

TP: Babesia sp. is believed to be an emerging parasite currently. What could be the possible reasons for such emergence?

Prof. Shin-ichiro Kawazu: Recent description and reports of babesiosis in the countries where the disease was not endemic long time ago might be due to in part to the current advances in diagnostic means and confirmation of already existed pathogen. In addition, the emergence of acaricide-resistant tick population might also account for in part to re-emergence of babesiosis in some endemic regions.

TP: Many reports on coinfection with other parasites and bacteria are coming up. How much is the significance of these coinfections and what may be the possible factors influencing them?

Prof. Shin-ichiro Kawazu: An immune deficiency, that is, one of the common complications in many parasitic infections may account for such bacterial coinfections.

Coinfections with malaria and tuberculosis and HIV and malaria are recognized. There is a recent report showing the potential of transmission of Rickettsia felis by Anopheles gambiae, which highlights the risk of coinfection with Plasmodium spp. in malaria-endemic areas.

TP: Vector-borne infections have been a global problem for many decades. As you have contributed immensely in the research on vectors transmitting Babesia sp. and other related pathogens, what is the importance of the role of detection of such organisms in these vectors and prevention of transmission?

Prof. Shin-ichiro Kawazu: Detection and identification of parasite in its vector as well as its mammalian hosts is important to completely understand the life cycle of the parasite in the endemic area. It also greatly helps to design and implement a disease control strategy based on the vector control such as that with insecticide.

TP: Can the current research on tick borne diseases shed any light on research on Babesia sp.?

Prof. Shin-ichiro Kawazu: Current completions and publications of genome projects on several tick bone diseases, especially those on apicomplexan parasites are largely contributing to the basic and applied biology of Babesia parasites in the context of comparative genomics and evolutionary studies.

TP: What is the current status regarding the diagnosis of babesiosis and its newer methods?

Prof. Shin-ichiro Kawazu: A new generation of innovative gene amplification technique such as loop-mediated isothermal amplification has already been successfully applied for diagnosis of several babesiosis especially in the field. Development of a point-of-care testing with both high specificity and sensitivity is awaited. It will make advance in the diagnosis and contribute the disease control.

TP: Can you throw some light on the epidemiology of Babesia sp. and the distribution of the various species in your region?

Prof. Shin-ichiro Kawazu: Japan has successfully eliminated Babesia bovis infection in cattle through extensive treatment of infected animals and the tick vector control. We still have our endogenous specie, Babesia ovata, in cattle, however, its prevalence in each district of Japan is not clear. An epidemiological survey on the parasite in Japan and also in neighboring countries may be recommended.

TP: Are there any international bodies looking into research on such tick borne diseases?

Prof. Shin-ichiro Kawazu: Organization for Animal Health has assigned collaborating centers and experts for such parasitic diseases. National Research Center for Protozoan Diseases located in Obihiro, Hokkado, Japan, is the collaborating center for surveillance and control of protozoan diseases and has an expert laboratory for equine babesiosis.

TP: Vector control is a very important part in tackling infections of many diseases. How much successful is the vector control program in the developed countries? Kindly throw some light on the status in developing countries.

Prof. Shin-ichiro Kawazu: As I mentioned, Japan has successfully eradicated B. bovis infection in cattle through extensive vector control. This is a firm evidence which is clearly showing the importance of vector control in tackling parasitic infectious diseases. This strategy must be effective in developing countries as well, and we are happy to share our experience and knowledge with countries currently suffering from those parasitic infectious diseases.

TP: Kindly share few suggestions for the budding scientists in the field of parasitology.

Prof. Shin-ichiro Kawazu: Parasitology is the science of studying relations between the parasite and its host. This relation as "Parasitism" is dynamic since parasite, even protozoan parasite, has big body (cell) in size and can move. I hope that those budding parasitologists can observe and enjoy such active parasites itself in the host, but not solely work with gene and protein as its parts.