Parasites

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A man undergoes “xenodiagnosis” for Chagas disease in the Argentine province of Corrientes. In this procedure, uninfected triatomine bugs feed on the blood of patients. Later examination of these insects may reveal parasites acquired from infected blood. German Pomar/Reuters

Explainer: what is Chagas disease?

This parasitic infection is endemic in Central and South America, and can lead to serious health complications. Though rare in the US, incidence is starting to increase.
A parasite wants to live with you, and to do that it needs to convince your body’s immune system to ignore it. Sebastian Kaulitzki/Shutterstock

Bugs as treatment: coming to a clinic near you…

When you’re sick, you want the most effective treatment to help get you back on your feet. But what if that involved bugs? Maggots and leeches have been used for decades and are still supplied to hospitals…

Galápagos hawks inherit parasites

When Galápagos hawks diverge into distinct populations, so too do the lice that call their feathers home. A field study led…
An adult black fly with the parasite Onchocerca volvulus coming out of the insect’s antenna. United States Department of Agriculture

How some parasites can end up in your eye and turn you blind

In sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Latin America, there is a parasitic worm that infects about 25m people, causing serious skin diseases, epilepsy and blindness. Known as Onchocerca volvulus, it can live…
Hey! You got a friend in Taenia solium. Roberto J. Galindo

The top ten parasites that could be lurking in your food

Most people are fascinated, and probably equally repulsed, by parasites. And it may be something you think you only need to worry about if you go on holiday somewhere exotic. However, increasing globalisation…
Body-snatching crabs is not just for humans. Chesapeake Bay

The crab-castrating parasite that zombifies its prey

Meet Sacculina carcini – a barnacle that makes a living as a real-life body-snatcher of crabs. Unlike most barnacles that are happy to simply stick themselves to a rock and filter food from the water…
Darwin’s finch nestlings are highly vulnerable to a parasitic fly – unless their folks fumigate the nest. Sarah A. Knutie

No fly zone: Darwin’s finches self-fumigate (with a little help)

When a bird species is threatened by nest parasites, you might think the logical next step is to fumigate – unsurprisingly, though, physically spraying nests (as you might spray an infested house) is disruptive…
Parasites can infest any part of the body that has an opening to the outside world. SBS

Life on Us: a close-up look at the bugs that call us home

Many microscopic bugs and bacteria live on our skin and within our various nooks and crannies. Almost anywhere on (or even within) the human body can be home to these enterprising bugs. Bugs affect us…
‘Kiss me under the parasite’ doesn’t have quite the same ring … Schnobby

Good parasite, bad parasite: nature has a job for everyone

Parasites are thought of as free-loaders, but many contribute as much as they take. They service the ecosystem. From an ecological perspective, they are more like tiny, hidden architects that are overlooked…
This is not Naegleria fowleri, but it’ll do to put the horrors of climate change on your mind. Andrés Monroy-Hernández/Flickr

Brain-eating’ parasites are winners in the warming world

An influential US blog about climate change recently featured the story of a “brain-eating” infectious parasite that has caused 31 deaths in that country in the past decade. “Brain-eating” is just one…
Maybe not such a great place to go swimming. Phanatic

Six human parasites you definitely don’t want to host

Parasites are fascinating. They are uniquely adapted to survive, in some cases through very complex life cycles. There’s also research to suggest that some may even change the behaviour of hosts to assist…

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