parasites

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NIMBY Disease: Yes, U.S. Residents, You’re Vulnerable To Parasites Too

Photo by CDC/Jim Gathany: An adult triatomine, or kissing bug, with eggs. Triatomines transmit the parasite that causes Chagas disease.

Photo by CDC/Jim Gathany: An adult triatomine, or kissing bug, with eggs. Triatomines transmit the parasite that causes Chagas disease.

Just in time for outdoor-frolicking season, yet another thing to worry about: parasitic disease.

You may think this topic should be filed under: “no cause for concern;” indeed many people believe that illnesses transmitted by parasites are primarily a problem of the developing world, something you might pick up on an exotic trip, but never here at home.

Think again, says the CDC.

In a special supplement to the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, CDC scientists offer abundant detail on the health dangers of parasites.

Here’s the news release from the public health agency:

…parasitic infections also occur in the United States, and in some cases affect millions of people. Often they can go unnoticed, with few symptoms. But many times the infections cause serious illnesses, including seizures, blindness, pregnancy complications, heart failure, and even death. Anyone—regardless of race or economic status—can become infected.

CDC has targeted five neglected parasitic infections (NPIs) in the United States as priorities for public health action based on the numbers of people infected, the severity of the illnesses, or our ability to prevent and treat them. These NPIs include Chagas disease, cysticercosis, toxocariasis, toxoplasmosis, and trichomoniasis.

Parasitic infections affect millions around the world causing seizures, blindness, infertility, heart failure, and even death,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “They’re more common in the US than people realize and yet there is so much we don’t know about them. We need research to learn more about these infections and action to better prevent and treat them.” Continue reading

BBC: Body Hair Helps Fend Off Bed Bugs

All these years of shaving or waxing or bleaching or plucking — wouldn’t it be nice to think that unwanted body hair might actually serve some purpose?

The BBC headline today is “Hairy Limbs Keep Bed Bugs At Bay,” and it cites a Sheffield University study published in the journal Biology Letters. “Hungry bugs placed on shaved arms were more likely to try to feed compared with those on unshaved arms,” it reports; and, “Researchers say the hair slows down the bed bugs and warns the victim.”

So the more hair, the better, right? (Which would also suggest that we brunettes tend to be more favored by evolution than blondes, would it not?) Not so fast, says Sheffield Prof. Michael Siva-Jothy.

The BBC reports:

However, even though men are naturally hairier than women, they do not appear to be bitten less often. Continue reading