As the Neglected Tropical Diseases NGO Network (NNN) Annual Meeting begins in Addis Ababa, the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene (RSTMH) have announced the winners of their joint photo competition on the theme of neglected tropical diseases, with first prize going to Zikmund Bartoniček who took the photograph as part of his MSc at LSTM.
The winning photograph, which shared first prize with another image, is called “Shedding” and depicts exposing snails to sunlight to provoke trematode – and especially schistosome – cercariae shedding in Barombi Kotto, Cameroon. Zikmund had travelled to Cameroon as part of his MSc project with LSTM’s Dr James La Course, Dr Martyn Stewart and Prof Russ Stothard.
On winning the competition Zikmund said: “I took this picture when I was working on my masters' project at LSTM in southwest Cameroon. As part of my research, I was trying to detect schistosomiasis in the lake using environmental DNA detection and assessing how susceptible the intermediate freshwater snails are to lower doses of molluscicides so that the effect on non-target species are not as devastating and therefore more acceptable by local communities. Ultimately these efforts should allow us to detect and tackle schistosomiasis in the environment more efficiently as part of the integrated approach.”
The photograph was taken during the MSc field trip and Dr La Course is delighted that Zikmund’s work has been highlighted.
He said: “I was delighted, and very proud to see that the valuable work carried out by our MSc students during their projects has been recognised in this way. Zikmund’s picture is fantastic and he worked very hard while with us at LSTM. I hope that the depiction of his work will encourage and inspire other students to think about highlighting their work too, so that they can gain as much impact as possible in communicating it to a wider audience and spreading the word about the importance of beating NTDs.”
Along with the winner, an image by LSTM’s Honorary Research Fellow, Dr Michelle Stanton, was also featured in the top ten photographs. Taken on another MSc field trip, this time to Uganda, it shows boats on the edge of Lake Albert during a schistosomiasis survey. Snails were sampled in the lake. All 30 children surveyed in the nearby school tested positive for schistosomiasis despite regular treatment with praziquantel.