How did hookworm infections
slow the economy of the postbellum South? Do body mites
play a role in diseases such as rosacea? Did fermenting
seal flippers in Tupperware instead of traditional containers increase Native Alaskan botulism rates?
is the blog of microbiologist Rebecca Kreston, who aims to explore the intersection of infectious diseases, the human body, public health and anthropology.
(or, more dramatically, "elephantiasis
") is spread by mosquitoes. The mosquitoes transmit worms
to your blood, the worms mate while you sleep, and their progeny travel to your lymph nodes
to live a happy life. Unfortunately for you, the worms can get too big, allowing fluid to collect in your limbs
. Lucky for your neighbors
, the disease can be controlled
. (China already did it
According to estimates, about 1.5 billion people--about a quarter of the earth's population--are hosts to the Ascaris lumbricoides
parasitic worm. Ascaris worms can grow to be 18 inches in length, and use their host's windpipe and esophagus to migrate between the small intestine and the lungs. A single human host may support dozen of large worms, which can be contracted by contact with fecal matter, animals, or undercooked pork. Under some circumstances (the worms dislike anesthesia, for example) one or more worms may exit from the mouth (a horrifying image
), or the anus (one of the most disgusting images I have ever seen
, and not safe for work, obviously). Here, the removal of a worm is caught on video
Too disgusting to post? Almost. But 1.5 billion people have got these in their bodies right now. That's what's grosser than gross.
Batten down the mosquito netting
In Iraq: "Now a new wave of unexpected horror, leishmaniasis, is arriving at WRAMC – which has the only accredited leishmaniasis lab in the United States – and its dedicated docs are burning the midnight oil to find a treatment. A model predicts that 1 percent to 4 percent of our soldiers in Iraq can expect to be hit by this potentially deadly parasite, delivered by the bite of infected sand flies as common in the Middle East as fleas on a wild dog. "