Food and Environmental Parasitology Network

Contact Information
Dr. Brent Dixon (Chair)
Bureau of Microbial Hazards, Health Canada

Research Technical Support: Lorna Parrington

Research Activity

Foodborne and waterborne illnesses associated with parasitic infections have increased dramatically in Canada in recent years. While many of these outbreaks and cases have a human source (e.g contamination of foods from infected food handlers, or contamination of water with sewage, etc.), others are zoonotic in origin (animal to human transmission) (e.g., infected meat animals and fish, agricultural run-off, companion animals, etc.). Consequently, there is an urgent need for further research and surveillance on these issues in Canada. These laboratory-based studies are required to form the basis of health risk assessments, risk management decisions, guidelines and policies to ensure the safety of food and water in Canada.

In 2009, the Bureau of Microbial Hazards, Food Directorate, Health Canada, established a network of Canadian researchers, regulators, and public health officials with an active involvement in issues related to food and environmental parasitology. The Food and Environmental Parasitology Network (FEPN), chaired by Dr. Brent Dixon, and co-chaired by Dr. Momar Ndao, McGill University, is the first of its kind in Canada, and brings together experts in these increasingly important fields. Members of the FEPN represent federal and provincial government, academia, and industry from across Canada.

The scope of the FEPN includes protozoan and helminth parasites, as well as ectoparasites of public health concern in Canada. The issues of interest include: contaminated foods and infected food animals (e.g., imported produce, raw meats, fish and shellfish, country foods), potable and non-potable water, Northern and Aboriginal issues, zoonotic transmission (e.g., livestock, wildlife, fisheries and aquaculture, companion animals), and epidemiology. The FEPN is currently establishing Working Groups to address a number of these issues.

FEPN Objectives:

The objectives of the FEPN are to:

  1. identify and communicate risks and research/surveillance gaps relevant to the fields;
  2. facilitate discussion, grant applications, and collaborative research amongst members and external researchers;
  3. develop and validate standardized methods for the isolation, detection, characterization, surveillance, and control of foodborne and environmental parasites;
  4. generate data for risk assessments and policy development; and
  5. provide expert advice and testing in support of outbreak investigations and surveillance studies.

Future goals of the FEPN include the establishment of national reference laboratories and databases for food and environmental parasites, as well as linkages to similar or complementary national and international networks. For more information on the FEPN visit Food and Environmental Parasitology Network (FEPN)

How to Join FEPN

Membership in the Network is open to all individuals (Government, Non-governmental Organizations, Academia, and Industry) with a research, public health, or regulatory involvement in the fields of foodborne parasites and/or environmental parasitology in Canada. Meetings are held at least two times per year by teleconference. In addition, ad hoc meetings are held in conjunction with scientific conferences whenever possible. Members of the FEPN are expected to:

  • participate in developing and achieving Network objectives,
  • attend and participate in meetings / teleconferences,
  • contribute to discussions and complete specific tasks as required,
  • identify issues for future discussion,
  • serve as liaison between their organization and the Network,
  • identify potential new members, and
  • participate with a spirit of cooperation.

An annotated Directory of Members is available on the FEPN website and includes a Parasite / Issues Index.

To apply for membership, please mail or email the following information to the address below:

  • your name, title and organization,
  • your complete contact information,
  • a few lines describing you research interests as they apply to the FEPN,
  • 4-5 keywords describing your expertise/interests, and
  • any recent publications relevant to the FEPN.

Membership Applications and inquiries may be sent to:

Food and Environmental Parasitology Network
c/o Dr. Brent Dixon
Microbiology Research Division,
Bureau of Microbial Hazards, Health Canada
Rm E409, Banting Research Centre, Postal Locator 2204E
251 Sir Frederick Banting Driveway,
Ottawa, ON, Canada
K1A 0K9
Facsimile: (+1) 613 941-0280

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