19 Stories

Meet the Parasites That Suck Mosquitoes' Blood

Culicoid midges can hang onto hosts for days

(Newser) - Next time you're annoyed by a tenacious mosquito, you can take solace in the fact that it, too, has to deal with parasites who want to suck its blood. And, as Jennifer Frazer points out in Scientific American , the mosquito has no way of slapping the tiny creature known... More »

Beluga Whales Infected With Cat Parasite

Poses health threat to Inuits

(Newser) - The Toxoplasma gondii parasite, carried by cats, can cause rats to stop fearing the felines; in humans, it can cause blindness. Now, beluga whales in the Arctic have been discovered to have the parasite—and researchers fear it could infect the people who eat them. "The only way to... More »

Richard III Had Bad Case of Roundworms

Researchers find evidence of intestinal parasite infection

(Newser) - Since digging up the skeleton of Richard III , scientists have been able to determine what he looked like , how he was buried ... and, most recently, what was going on in his bowels. It seems the king had a roundworm infection when he died, the Independent reports. Researchers compared a soil... More »

Dust Mites Reverse Evolution, Shock Scientists

Parasites de-specialized in order to survive, study says

(Newser) - Think our evolutionary progress is irreversible? Researchers at the University of Michigan say tiny house dust mites evolved from organisms that specialized and later de-specialized in order to survive over millions of years, Phys.Org reports. The large-scale genetic study, published in Systematic Biology , challenges one of the basic suppositions... More »

Disease You've Likely Never Heard of Costs US Millions

Little-known Chagas disease sucks $900M a year

(Newser) - A little-known parasitic disease from Latin America costs the US economy $900 million a year, the New York Times reports, even though you've probably never heard of Chagas disease . To put the figure in perspective, the much more publicized Lyme disease costs the US about $2.5 billion, a... More »

We've Only Wiped Out One Human Disease—Until Now

Guinea worm cases down 99%

(Newser) - The guinea worm is set to go the way of smallpox, becoming the second human disease to be fully wiped out—thanks in part to work by Jimmy Carter's Carter Center. "We are approaching the demise of the last guinea worm who will ever live on Earth,"... More »

Study: Cat Poop Raises Owners' Suicide Risk

Parasite infection linked to higher rate of attempts

(Newser) - More bad press for cat poop: A parasite found in cat feces has been linked to an increased likelihood of owners committing suicide, reports NPR . The study of more than 45,000 Danish women over the course of 30 years found that those infected with toxoplasmosis (possibly from changing cat... More »

Body Hair Is Bedbug Warning System

Our layer of fine hairs aids parasite detection: study

(Newser) - Scientists who wondered why human skin still boasts as many follicles as that of great apes—ours, of course, grow hair much, much finer—believe our species' continued hairiness serves as an alarm system that protects us from bedbugs and other biting insects, the Economist finds. The researchers, who shaved... More »

Multiple Sclerosis Treatment: Parasitic Worms

Hookworms, whipworms can reduce brain lesions caused by MS

(Newser) - The fight against multiple sclerosis has found an unexpected ally—parasitic worms. Researchers in the United States and Denmark are looking into the eggs of pig whipworms, which can reduce the size of the MS brain lesions and the effects of the disease, while doctors in the UK are studying... More »

Experts Swarm Bedbug Summit

Leaders in battle against bloodsuckers meet in Chicago

(Newser) - These are boom times in the bedbug control business and dozens of scientists, exterminators, and inventors have flocked to a summit this week on dealing with the resurgent pest. At the first-ever North American Bedbug Summit, being held in a suburban Chicago hotel, dozens of vendors displayed ways to trap,... More »

Cities With Worst Bedbug Infestations

Ohio has three in the top 10

(Newser) - The bedbug problem continues to spread across the US, with 95% of pest companies reporting encounters. But which cities are the hardest hit? The Daily Beast consulted exterminator Orkin for information—and found that it's not a good time to be in Ohio. The biggest infestations are in: More »

This Leech Wants to Live in Your Nose

Large-toothed leech infests Amazon—and, of course, noses

(Newser) - If the piranhas aren't enough to deter you from swimming in the Amazon region, this thing probably will be. A new species of leech has been discovered in Peru—and it's especially fond of dwelling inside the human nose, the BBC reports. The creature, discovered after a doctor pulled one... More »

'Better' Pork Carries Big Health Risks

Free-range pork may relieve your guilt, but bother your tummy

(Newser) - Free-range pork sounds better for everyone involved, especially the pig. But exposure to the outdoors means exposure to dangerous pathogens, from salmonella to toxoplasmosis to the deadly parasite trichinosis, writes James McWilliams for the New York Times. "Free range is like piggy day care, a thoughtfully arranged system designed... More »

Pay for Soup, Enjoy Insects, Mold Free

FDA's classification of food 'defects' a slippery slope

(Newser) - If you're eating, stop reading now: The FDA's rules on foreign matter in food products are a veritable entomology lesson. Maggots, fly eggs, rodent droppings, grit, mold, burlap, cigarette butts, and parasites are all OK with the agency in limited quantities, writes EJ Levy in the New York Times, adding,... More »

Scientists Building Better Bug Spray

Pepper compounds keep mosquitoes away 3 times longer than top dog DEET

(Newser) - Researchers have found bug repellents that keep mosquitoes from biting for up to 73 days, WebMD reports. Compounds found in pepper kept bugs away nearly three times as long as industry leader DEET, which manages just 17.5 days under the same conditions—though a normal human would sweat or... More »

New Approach Targets Tough Parasitic Illness

Insect-borne disease infects 11M annually

(Newser) - A new way to test for Chagas disease offers hope for combating the insect-borne ailment, which can otherwise go unnoticed for years, Reuters reports. The new method involves screening children in small areas where exterminators find the most disease-carrying bugs instead of having to test bigger populations. The disease infects... More »

Bigfoot Sighting Revealed to be Big Mistake

Bad case of mange made bear look like legendary Sasquatch

(Newser) - A Pennsylvania hunter's footage of a "juvenile Sasquatch" has been discredited after officials said the star of the show was actually an unhealthy bear. Same deal for a Texas rancher who claimed to have captured a chupacabra, the legendary Mexican goat-killer, but had in fact only bagged a coyote.... More »

Modified Mosquitoes Could Fight the Spread of Malaria

(Newser) - Genetically modified mosquitoes that cannot pass on malaria may help reduce the spread of the disease that now causes a million deaths a year, mostly children. A new study shows that the lab-designed bugs could out-breed their natural competition, eventually driving them out altogether and eliminating the route through which... More »

Is Your Cat Making You Neurotic?

(Newser) - A parasite that reproduces in cats, previously linked to schizophrenia in infected humans, has now, bizarrely, been implicated in mass personality changes in geographic areas where incidence of infection is high. A U.S. Geological Survey study of 39 countries shows that high infection rates of the Toxoplasma gondii parasite... More »

19 Stories


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