Ricardo Castillo-Neyra, PhD, DVM, MSPH


  •  Instructor | University of Pennsylvania
  •   Brazil | Peru
  •   Epidemiology | OneHealth | Public Health | Tropical diseases

Languages: Spanish (native), English (fluent), Portuguese (basic)

Bio statement

I am an instructor in the Department of Biostatistics, Epidemiology, & Informatics in Perelman School of Medicine, and the scientific director of the Zoonotic Disease Research Lab (Penn and Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia in Peru). I study the eco-epidemiology of tropical diseases. My current research uses canine rabies as a system model to understand how the social and spatial features of cities influence the emergence and persistence of infectious diseases.

Dog rabies threatens human health in the Americas and is expanding in some regions. Why can’t we get rid of the oldest known zoonotic disease? I conduct community-based studies in southern Peru to answer this question.

Recent global health projects

"A Socio-ecological Approach to Prevent Dog-mediated Human Rabies". During the last three decades mass dog vaccination campaigns have significantly reduced dog and human rabies around the world.However, low coverage allows the persistence of the rabies virus in some regions. Social factors combined with urban ecological processes explain the re-emergence, persistence and expansion of rabies. Using dog-mediated human rabies in southern Peru as a system model, I integrate mathematical and social approaches to develop optimized control and prevention strategies for urban zoonoses.

"Disrupting Vector-borne Disease Transmission in Urban Environments". We develop new methods to improve modeling of vector-borne disease transmission. Our methods allow for robust inferences on unobserved spatial processes that take into account the inaccuracies and uncertainties inherent in spatial data collection. We field test our methods in the city of Arequipa, Peru, where transmission of the parasitic agent of Chagas disease, Trypanosoma cruzi, by the insect vector Triatoma infestans is a serious urban problem.

Selected publications

  1. Castillo-Neyra R, Brown J, Borrini K, Arevalo C, Levy MZ, Buttenheim A, Hunter GC, Becerra V, Behrman J, Paz-Soldan VA. (2017) Barriers to dog rabies vaccination during an urban rabies outbreak: Qualitative findings from Arequipa, Peru. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 11(3): e0005460. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0005460
  2. Paz-Soldán V, Bauer KM, Hunter GC, Castillo-Neyra R, Arriola V, Rivera-Lanas D, Rodriguez GH, Toledo Vizcarra A, Mollesaca Riveros L, Levy MZ, Buttenheim A (2016). To spray or not to spray? Understanding participation in an indoor residual spray campaign in Arequipa, Peru. Global Public Health. 29 Apr 2015: 1-18. doi: 10.1080/17441692.2016.1178317
  3. Castro-Sesquen Y, Gilman RH, Mejia C, Clark DE, Choi J, Reimer-McAtee M, Castro R, Valencia-Ayala E, Flores J, Bowman N, Castillo-Neyra R, Torrico F, Liotta L, Bern C, The Chagas/HIV Working Group in Bolivia and Peru (2016). Use of a Chagas Urine Nanoparticle Test (Chunap) to Correlate with Parasitemia Levels in Tcruzi/HIV Co-infected Patients. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 10(2): e0004407. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0004407 
  4. Salazar R, Castillo-Neyra R, Tustin A, Borrini-Mayori K, Naquira C, Levy MZ. “Bed Bus as Vectors of Trypanosoma cruzi” (2015). The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Vol. 92, Issue 2. February 2015: 331-335. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.14-0483.
  5. Castillo-Neyra R, Barbu C, Salazar R, Borrini K, Naquira C, Levy MZ. “Host-Seeking Behavior and Dispersal of Triatoma infestans, a Vector of Chagas Disease, under Semi-field Conditions” (2015). 8 January 2015. PLoS Negl Trop Dis 9(1): e3433. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0003433
  6. Castillo-Neyra R, Borrini K, Salazar R, Ancca-Juarez, Xie S. Naquira C, Levy M. (2016) Heterogeneous infectiousness in guinea pigs experimentally infected with Trypanosoma cruzi. Parasitology International. 2016 February: 50-54. doi:10.1016/j.parint.2015.09.009
  7. Castillo-Neyra R, Chou Chou L, Quispe-Machaca V, Ancca-Juarez J, Malaga Chavez FS, Bastos Mazuelos M, Naquira C, Bern C, Gilman RH, Levy MZ. (2015) The potential of canine sentinels for reemerging Trypanosoma cruzi transmission. Preventive Veterinary Medicine. 2015 July 1: 349-356. doi: 10.1016/j.prevetmed.2015.04.014
  8. Castillo-Neyra R, Augusto Frisancho J, Rinsky J, Resnick C, Carroll KC, Rule AM, Ross T, You Y, Price LB, Silbergeld EK. (2014) Multidrug-Resistant and Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) in Hog Slaughter and Processing Plant Workers and Their Community in North Carolina (USA). Environmental Health Perspectives. May 2014: 471-477. doi:10.1289/ehp.1306741
  9. Jayashi C, Gonzalez AE, Castillo-Neyra R, Rodriguez S, Garcia HH, Lightowlers M, the Cysticercosis Working Group in Peru. (2014) Validity of the Enzyme-linked Immunoelectrotransfer Blot (EITB) for naturally acquired porcine cysticercosis. Veterinary Parasitology. January 2014: 42-49. doi: 10.1016/j.vetpar.2013.10.004.
  10. Castillo-Neyra R, Vegosen L, Davis MF, Price L, Silbergeld E. (2012) Antimicrobial-resistant Bacteria: An Unrecognized Work-related Risk in Food Animal Production. Safety and Health at Work. June 2012: 85-91. doi: 10.5491/SHAW.2012.3.2.85

 "A Socio-ecological Approach to Prevent Dog-mediated Human Rabies". "A Socio-ecological Approach to Prevent             Dog-mediated Human Rabies".  "Penn Medicine News recently published a spotlight on Dr. Castillo-Neyra's work           in Peru: In Peru, Penn Researchers Race to Vaccinate Dogs as Two Epidemics Collide"