PerspectiveInfectious Diseases

Eradication genomics—lessons for parasite control

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Science  13 Jul 2018:
Vol. 361, Issue 6398, pp. 130-131
DOI: 10.1126/science.aar6609

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Large-scale programs are seeking to control or eliminate infectious diseases with the greatest impact on global health. Many of these efforts target the neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) that disproportionately affect the lives of the poor. Often the aim is to eradicate the causative pathogens. The idea—inspired by the success of smallpox eradication in the 1960s and 1970s—is that a large-scale, but time-limited, effort could eliminate a disease for all successive generations, resulting in an enormous payoff both financially and in improved health. Here, we discuss the value of genomic approaches to support disease eradication efforts, particularly by analogy with how conservation genomics is supporting efforts to prevent extinctions.