Protistan parasites have an undisputed global health impact. However, outside of a few key exceptions, e.g. the agent of malaria, most of these infectious agents are neglected as important health threats. The Symposium entitled “Free-living amoebae and neglected pathogenic protozoa: health emergency signals?” held at the European Congress of Protistology in Rome, July 2019, brought together researchers addressing scientific and clinical questions about some of these fascinating organisms. Topics presented included the molecular basis of pathogenicity in Acanthamoeba; genomics of Naegleria fowleri; and epidemiology of poorly diagnosed enteric protistan species, including Giardia, Cryptosporidium, Blastocystis, Dientamoeba. The Symposium aim was to excite the audience about the opportunities and challenges of research in these underexplored organisms and to underline the public health implications of currently under-appreciated protistan infections. The major take home message is that any knowledge that we gain about these organisms will allow us to better address them, in terms of monitoring and treatment, as sources of future health emergencies.
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