Issue compiled and edited by Joanne Lello and Andy Fenton
Though incredibly diverse, parasite and pathogen species all have one thing in common, the need to move between hosts. Breaking this transmission cycle is essential for successful parasite control. Yet, transmission is probably the least well-studied or understood component of the parasite life cycle. In this issue we summarise current knowledge in this field, propose novel perspectives to promote discussion and emphasise those areas where we believe the greatest need for future research lies. We highlight the importance of assessing transmission in real world settings, where changing environmental conditions (often resulting from anthropogenic influences) and multiple-host species, can greatly complicate the measurement and control of parasite transmission and influence its evolution. We demonstrate, however, that by deconstructing transmission into its component stages we may better assess, and measure, when, and how, parasite, host and environmental attributes interact to influence the overall transmission process. The issue also highlights the need for consistent and robust terminology to avoid confusion that could otherwise hold back future progress. Importantly, overall this issue provides a framework to determine when simple estimates of transmission are insufficient and proposes steps that may be taken to measure transmission in these more complex cases.
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