Articles on 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.
Threadworm infection is common but it’s often asymptomatic. Ayaka Darkly/Flickr

Health check: the low-down on ‘worms’ and how to get rid of them

Intestinal worms (or helminths) are multicellular parasites that live inside the gut. When mature, they can generally be seen with the naked eye. In developing countries with poor sanitation, the most…
I’ve got worms… nathaninsandiego

Meet the parasitic worm that kills giant pandas

Giant pandas aren’t dying like they used to. In the early 1980s, starvation accounted for more than nine out of ten deaths. However, over the past three decades a parasitic gut worm has replaced that as…
Spot the difference. You might succeed but bird hosts fail. piper

Egg colours make cuckoos masters of disguise

Cuckoos are notorious cheats. Instead of building a nest, incubating their eggs and raising their chicks, they lay their eggs in the nests of other birds and leave the task of raising their offspring to…
The bobtail squid and bioluminscent bacteria are just one of hundreds of examples of mutualism. Klaus Stiefel/Flickr

It takes two: how mutualisms evolve in a world of selfish genes

Reproduction for a female fig wasp can be a nightmarish process. When she is ready to lay her eggs, she leaves the fig in which she was born and became pregnant and searches for another. After she finds…
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…

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