Tag Archives: Parasitology

Plasmodium knowlesi malaria in humans and macaques, Thailand

Naturally acquired human infections with Plasmodium knowlesi are endemic to Southeast Asia. To determine the prevalence of P. knowlesi malaria in malaria-endemic areas of Thailand, we analyzed genetic characteristics of P. knowlesi circulating among naturally infected macaques and humans. This study in 2008–2009 and retrospective analysis of malaria species in human blood samples obtained in […]

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Zoonotic Ascariasis, United Kingdom

Ascaris lumbricoides/suum is a complex of closely related enteric roundworms that mainly infect humans and pigs. Transmission occurs through ingestion of fecally excreted ova. A. lumbricoides worms usually infect humans, mainly in regions with poor sanitation, where the environment is contaminated with human feces. In industrialized countries, human ascariasis is uncommon and cases are generally […]

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Tick responsible for equine piroplasmosis outbreak identified

The cayenne tick has been identified as one of the vectors of equine piroplasmosis in horses in a 2009 Texas outbreak, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists. The United States has been considered free from the disease since 1978, but sporadic cases have occurred in recent years. In October 2009, in Kleberg County, […]

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Worm ‘cell death’ discovery could lead to new drugs for deadly parasite

Researchers from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute have for the first time identified a ‘programmed cell death’ pathway in parasitic worms that could one day lead to new treatments for one of the world’s most serious and prevalent diseases. Dr Erinna Lee and Dr Doug Fairlie from the institute’s Structural Biology division study programmed […]

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Parasite uses the power of attraction to trick rats into becoming cat food

When a male rat senses the presence of a fetching female rat, a certain region of his brain lights up with neural activity, in anticipation of romance. Now Stanford University researchers have discovered that in male rats infected with the parasite Toxoplasma, the same region responds just as strongly to the odor of cat urine. […]

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Hybrid Leishmania parasites on the loose

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What we anxiously fear in the influenza virus — a cross between two strains, resulting in a new variant we have no resistance against — has occurred in another pathogen, the Leishmania parasite. This was uncovered by researchers of the Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITG). The new hybrid species might not be more dangerous than […]

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Diagnosing stomach disease in pet reptiles

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A popular “get well” card shows a racoon saying to a snake, “You wouldn’t get these stomach aches if you chewed your food properly.” Vets know, however, that indigestion in snakes and other reptiles often results not from swallowing food whole but from a parasitic infection. The gastrointestinal disease cryptosporidiosis represents a particularly severe problem: […]

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Dual parasitic infections deadly to marine mammals

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A study of tissue samples from 161 marine mammals that died between 2004 and 2009 in the Pacific Northwest reveals an association between severe illness and co-infection with two kinds of parasites normally found in land animals. One, Sarcocystis neurona, is a newcomer to the northwest coastal region of North America and is not known […]

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Lousy flies explain weird evolution of pigeon pests

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Wing lice can travel on parasitic flies en route to new bird hosts. Pigeons and doves are plagued by two types of lice. Body lice live on the abdomens of the birds, where they feast on downy, insulating feathers. Wing lice dine on the same fluffy feathers but spend most of their time on the […]

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Ticks are on the march in Britain

The prevalence of ticks attaching to dogs in Great Britain has been mapped by scientists as part of a national tick survey. The findings reveal that the number of dogs infested with the blood-sucking parasites was much higher than expected. The study also confirms that a European tick species now exists in Great Britain. The […]

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Aimless proteins may be crucial to disease

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and Stanford University discovered that a supposedly inactive protein actually plays a crucial role in the ability of one the world’s most prolific pathogens to cause disease, findings that suggest the possible role of similarly errant proteins in other diseases. The team reports in the Proceedings of the National […]

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Monkeys provide malaria reservoir for human disease in Southeast Asia

Monkeys infected with an emerging malaria strain are providing a reservoir for human disease in Southeast Asia. The study confirms that the species has not yet adapted to humans and that monkeys are the main source of infection. Malaria is a potentially deadly disease that kills over a million people each year. The disease is […]

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How different strains of parasite infection affect behavior differently

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Toxoplasma gondii infects approximately 25 percent of the human population. The protozoan parasite is noted for altering the behavior of infected hosts. Jianchun Xiao and colleagues of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine find clear differences in the manipulation of host gene expression among the three clonal lineages that predominate in Europe and North America, […]

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Trichinosis parasite gets DNA decoded

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Scientists have decoded the DNA of the parasitic worm that causes trichinosis, a disease linked to eating raw or undercooked pork or carnivorous wild game animals, such as bear and walrus. After analyzing the genome, investigators at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and their collaborators report they have identified unique features of […]

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44-year-old mystery of how fleas jump resolved

If you thought that we know everything about how the flea jumps, think again. In 1967, Henry Bennet-Clark discovered that fleas store the energy needed to catapult themselves into the air in an elastic pad made of resilin. However, in the intervening years debate raged about exactly how fleas harness this explosive energy. Bennet-Clark and […]

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Virus and parasite may combine to increase harm to humans

A parasite and a virus may be teaming up in a way that increases the parasite’s ability to harm humans, scientists at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis recently reported in Science. When the parasite Leishmania infects a human, immune system cells known as macrophages respond. […]

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Why some strains of Toxoplasma are more dangerous than others

About one-third of the human population is infected with a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii, but most of them don’t know it. Though Toxoplasma causes no symptoms in most people, it can be harmful to individuals with suppressed immune systems, and to fetuses whose mothers become infected during pregnancy. Toxoplasma spores are found in dirt and […]

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Babesiosis in immunocompetent patients

We report 2 cases of babesiosis in immunocompetent patients in France. A severe influenza-like disease developed in both patients 2 weeks after they had been bitten by ticks. Diagnosis was obtained from blood smears, and Babesia divergens was identified by PCR in 1 case. Babesiosis in Europe occurs in healthy patients, not only in splenectomized […]

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Zoonotic cryptosporidiosis from petting farms, England and Wales

Visits to petting farms in England and Wales recently have increased in popularity. Petting farms are commercial operations at which visitors, mainly families and organized groups, are encouraged to have hands-on contact with animals. The ≈1,000 petting farms in the United Kingdom collectively receive >2 million visitors per year, with peak visitor times during school […]

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Protein helps parasite survive in host cells

Toxoplasma gondii and other related parasites surround themselves with a membrane to protect against factors in host cells that would otherwise kill them. Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have identified a parasite protein that protects this membrane from host proteins that can rupture it. According to the researchers, disabling the […]

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Sea lice from ocean pen farms might not be a menace to wild salmon

(Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) that were expected to swim up rivers to spawn in British Columbia’s Broughton Archipelago failed to appear. Something had killed them during their two-year sojourn at sea. Environmentalists suspected that sea lice (Lepeophtheirus salmonis) were responsible — and that the wild salmon had caught the lice from farm-raised Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) living […]

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An indirect route to taming flatworm infection

After years of studying a flatworm that infects hundreds of millions of people each year, scientists have turned to an evolutionary “cousin” of the worm for help. By exploring a related flatworm with similar characteristics and biology, they have generated a new approach for studying these worms in the lab and identified a reproductive hormone […]

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Prenatal treatment of congenital toxoplasmosis could reduce risk of brain damage

Prenatal treatment of congenital toxoplasmosis with antibiotics might substantially reduce the proportion of infected fetuses that develop serious neurological sequelae (brain damage, epilepsy, deafness, blindness, or developmental problems) or die, and could be particularly effective in fetuses whose mothers acquired Toxoplasma gondii, the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis, during the first third of pregnancy. These are […]

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How mosquitoes fight malaria

Consider it poetic justice. Mosquitoes succumb to the parasite that causes malaria just like people do. But many are able to fight off the infection. Now researchers have figured out how the insect’s immune system conquers the parasite—knowledge that could be used to combat the spread of malaria in humans. An insect’s immune system doesn’t […]

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Obscure immune cells thwart ticks

Rare in the body and hard to study, immune cells called basophils have long gotten short shrift from researchers. But a study now shows that basophils help repel bloodthirsty ticks that can spread lethal diseases. The work also introduces a new method for teasing out further immune functions of the often-overlooked cells. Many animals develop […]

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Need for protection against ticks that carry Lyme disease confirmed by new research

Research on the population of black-legged ticks, which can transmit Lyme disease from host animals to humans, reinforces that it is important to take preventative measures when spending time outdoors. University of Illinois graduate student Jennifer Rydzewski conducted a four-year survey of black-legged ticks (also known as deer ticks), their host animals, and their habitat […]

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Dangerous lung worms found in people who eat raw crayfish

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If you’re headed to a freshwater stream this summer and a friend dares you to eat a raw crayfish — don’t do it. You could end up in the hospital with a severe parasitic infection. Physicians at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have diagnosed a rare parasitic infection in six people who […]

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Scientists uncover transfer of genetic material between blood-sucking insect and mammals

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Researchers at The University of Texas at Arlington have found the first solid evidence of horizontal DNA transfer, the movement of genetic material among non-mating species, between parasitic invertebrates and some of their vertebrate hosts. The findings are published in the April 28 issue of the journal Nature, one of the world’s foremost scientific journals. […]

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Emerging tick-borne disease

Stories of environmental damage and their consequences always seem to take place far away and in another country, usually a tropical one with lush rainforests and poison dart frogs. In fact, similar stories starring familiar animals are unfolding all the time in our own backyards — including gripping tales of diseases jumping from animal hosts […]

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New vaccine shows promise against malaria in early-stage study

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When a malaria-carrying mosquito bites a human host, the malaria parasite enters the bloodstream, multiplies in the liver cells, and is then released back into the bloodstream, where it infects and destroys red blood cells. A new vaccine tested in 100 West African children triggers the immune system to produce antibodies against the malaria parasite […]

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