A curious discovery! Plant parasite found in human faeces.

By Richard Bradbury, Central Queensland University

Researchers from Atoifi Health Research Group working on a recent parasite survey on Kwai and Ngongosila islands, East Malaita have reported a unique finding. Dr Richard Bradbury (CQU) and Professor Rick Speare (JCU) noted the presence of several parasite eggs that resembled hookworm or Trichostrongylus spp. eggs but they had subtle differences in size and morphology. The eggs were identified as belonging to Meloidogyne species, a worm that eats taro and other root vegetables. The interesting thing was that the people who had provided a faeces sample for testing were not actually infected with this worm. Rather, they had eaten raw vegetables and the eggs of the root-knot worm were harmlessly passing through their alimentary canal.

This curious finding was first described in American soldiers during World War 1 and Melodogyne spp. egg passage was reported in helminth surveys with decreasing regularity from that time until the early 1970s. The Melodogyne spp. eggs found in human faeces in East Malaita is the first report of this spurious (false) parasitoses since 1970. This has raised the question, have these eggs been mistaken for something else over the past 40 years or have they just been ignored? This finding was published as a research letter in the prestigious American journal, Journal of Clinical Microbiology.


The Atoifi STH team is available to conduct surveys for gut parasites anywhere within the Solomon Islands. Please contact to discuss this.

For more information about this article, please contact Dr Richard Bradbury or Professor Rick Speare

Reference: Richard S Bradbury & Rick Speare. Passage of Meloidogyne spp. eggs in human stool - Forgotten, but not gone. Journal of Clinical Microbiology. 02/2015;

Photo: The Atoifi soil transmitted helminth (STH) laboratory team working at Ngongosila August 2014 (right to left): Fawcett Kilivisi, Eileen Otuana, Dorothy Esau, John Gwalaa, Dr Richard Bradbury, Nobo Harrington (Photo courtesy of Prof Rick Speare)

East Kwaio Villages Host James Cook University Sport and Exercise Students

By Tommy Esau, Research Worker

Nine Sport and Exercise Science students from James Cook University Cains and Townsville campuses have just returned from a two weeks trip to the Solomon Islands. Accompanied by lecturers Dr Glen Deakin and Associate Professor Anthony Leicht, along with public health researcher Dr David MacLaren, the students went to learn about a South Pacific-style triathlon where bikes are changed for dugout canoes.

Upon their arrival, the students were divided into two groups and headed to the remote villages of Abitona and Na’au in East Kwaio on the Islands of Malaita. In addition to learning about the Pacific-style triathlon, the students spent two weeks (November 30th -12th 2014) instructing villagers on skill and conditioning techniques to improve at soccer and volleyball, the two biggest sporting activities in the villages.

In Abitona village the students also conducted training sessions on swimming techniques, exercises for paddling and techniques for endurance development. There were morning and afternoon training sessions. During the day when the heat is strongest, the students visited old people and others with health–related issues to suggest appropriate exercises to assist them in their health and fitness.

In Na’au village the JCU team worked closely with the community to help them in their quest to continue sports activities such as soccer, volleyball, cricket and Pacific-style triathlons. In addition, the visiting group and community leaders discussed ways to encourage exercise, such as improving their sport field.

This trip from JCU Sport and Exercise and Science students to East Kwaio, Malaita has sparked the interest of many nearby villages. Abitona and Na’au communities have expressed their gratitude to the students for their time and training that was freely offered to them. They look forward to establishing a long-term relationship with JCU Sport and Exercise Science on a yearly basis. This activity complements the ongoing program of public health research through the Atoifi Health Research Group that looks to pro-actively respond to health needs of village people in East Kwaio.

For more information, please email: or

A free book chapter 'Triathlon in the Tropics – South Pacific Style' can be found here:

Photo: (i) JCU staff and students in Honiara preparing to fly to Malaita; (ii) JCU students Kama and Kieran lead a warm up exercise

TB Prevention story published

Viewing TB Video

Current delays in seeking treatment for tuberculosis (TB) may be more due to socio-cultural and health service factors than awareness of the disease. This is a key finding from an evaluation of a DVD resource developed by a TB team in East Kwaio, Solomon Islands.

In a new article published this week, Atoifi Health Research group members describe the development of a DVD resource for people in East and show the importance of culturally sensitive TB services, including TB education.

Dr Peter Massey, lead author of the new article said, “This evaluation has shown it may be cultural and health service factors that need addressing more than a need for further awareness about TB.”

The article, entitled, ‘Steps on a journey to TB control in Solomon Islands: a cross-sectional, mixed methods pre-post evaluation of a local language DVD’, can be read for free here:

For more information about the TB work in East Kwaio, please email: Dr Peter Massey or Mr Esau Kekeubata

We thank the Australian Respiratory Council for their ongoing funding of this important work.

Photo: Children in Kwaio mountains view a TB prevention video

Investigating Lymphatic Filariasis in Shortland Islands

Shortlands team

As a nurse and emerging heath researcher with the Atoifi Health Research Group, Eileen Otuana learnt more about lymphatic filariasis (LF) during a 2013 survey for LF survey in East Kwaio (Harrington et al 2013). LF is caused by a parasitic worm that is transmitted between people by mosquitoes. Solomon Islands was declared free from LF in 2011 but with such scattered and remote villages there is concern there may still be parasites present in some isolated villages. Eileen thought of family and friends in her homeland of Shortland Islands in Western Province, adjacent to the Papua New Guinea (PNG) boarder. When Eileen was growing up, many of her relatives had elephantiasis, an end-stage symptom of LF. A few years ago one of her uncles developed elephantiasis, and many people were experiencing unexplained fevers. She was concerned that the parasite may still be circulating in the community. Eileen discussed this with her father, Chief Bernard Otuana and the Atoifi Health Research Group were invited to investigate if the LF parasite was still present in the Shortland Islands.

In January 2015, a team of researchers of Humpress Harrington, Eileen Otuana, Professor Rick Speare and Dr David MacLaren travelled to the Shortland Islands to investigate LF transmission. LF is still a problem in neighboring Bougainville in PNG (Graves et al 2013), and many people travel back and forth from Bougainville. Testing for LF in Shortland Islands is therefore very important. Funded by a grant from the College of Medicine and Dentistry at James Cook University, the team partnered with leaders in 3 villages on the island of Fauro (all have had residents with elephantiasis) to conduct information sessions and tests. There were strong beliefs about elephantiasis and sorcery, and villagers were appreciative of the information that elephantiasis can be caused by a parasite. The team found no evidence of current transmission of LF however further tests are now being conducted at James Cook University to confirm these initial results.

The team would like to thank Chief Bernard Otuana the communities of Samanagho, Toumua and Kariki for their support and hospitality during this recent research activity. For more information, please email: Mr Humpress Harrington, Atoifi Hospital

Photo: Rick Speare, Humpress Harrington, Eileen Otuana and David MacLaren leaving Toumua village in Outer Shortland Islands

LF References:
Harrington, H., J. Asugeni, C. Jimuru, J. Gwalaa, E. Ribeyro, R. Bradbury, H. Joseph, W. Melrose, D. MacLaren and R. Speare (2013). A practical strategy for responding to a case of lymphatic filariasis post-elimination in Pacific Islands. Parasites & Vectors 6(1): 218.

Graves PM, Makita L, Susapu M, Brady MA, Melrose W, Capuano C, Zhang Z, Dapeng L, Ozaki M, Reeve D, Ichimori K, Kazadi WM, Michna F, Bockarie MJ, Kelly-Hope LA (2013). Lymphatic filariasis in Papua New Guinea: distribution at district level and impact of mass drug administration, 1980 to 2011. Parasitises & Vectors 6 (1):7.