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Ed Cara Ed Cara Nov 09, 2019 at 02:00. 10 comments

'Yikes, I'm a Host': What It's Like to Have Parasitic Eye Worms

'Yikes, I'm a Host': What It's Like to Have Parasitic Eye Worms

It’s not every day that you turn into a medical curiosity. But that’s exactly what happened to Dianne Travers-Gustafson, a retired medical anthropologist and public health researcher from Nebraska. In February 2018, her eyes had the misfortune of becoming infected by a particular kind of parasitic roundworm spread by face flies. She likely fell victim to the parasite while trail running along...

10 Comments

Hudson Hongo Hudson Hongo Nov 08, 2019. 2 comments

Help! I'm Obsessed With Disgusting Parasites

Help! I'm Obsessed With Disgusting Parasites

By the time I knew I was sick, it was already too late. I had already binged on Diagnosis and burned through The Medical Detectives. It was only after I turned to the truly hardcore shit, a show about parasites called Monsters Inside Me, that I realized I had a problem.

My favorite TV characters now have names like “leishmaniasis” and “raccoon roundworm.” My dreams? A tangle of squirmy eyes...

2 Comments

Ed Cara Ed Cara Nov 07, 2019. 20 comments

A Second Woman Has Gotten Parasitic Eye Worms, and Surely We're All Next

A Second Woman Has Gotten Parasitic Eye Worms, and Surely We're All Next

A species of worm that can infect human eyes has done it again, and this time it chose a 68-year-old woman from Nebraska. The woman is thought to be only the second human victim of these worms ever documented. But the incident signals they could become an emerging parasitic disease in the U.S.

The disturbing details of the case were laid out in a paper published this October in the journal...

20 Comments

Ed Cara Ed Cara Jun 08, 2019. 5 comments

Woman Relieved After Suspected Brain Tumor Turns Out to Be Tapeworm Egg

Woman Relieved After Suspected Brain Tumor Turns Out to Be Tapeworm Egg

You wouldn’t expect that finding a tapeworm egg in your brain would be seen as good news, but such was the case for New York resident Rachel Palma this past fall. That’s because the larva found inside was the true cause of Palma’s worsening symptoms of insomnia and hallucinations, rather than a brain tumor that her doctors initially suspected. Once the egg was removed, though, her health...

5 Comments

George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Nov 29, 2018. 11 comments

Infected ‘Zombie Spiders’ Forced to Build Incubation Chambers for Their Parasitic Overlords

Infected ‘Zombie Spiders’ Forced to Build Incubation Chambers for Their Parasitic Overlords

Parasites that control the behavior of their hosts for their own benefit are a well-documented natural phenomenon, but the discovery of a previously unknown relationship between a parasitic wasp and a social spider is particularly upsetting.

Hijacking the brains of unsuspecting hosts is a thing that some organisms do, typically for reproductive purposes. Famous examples include a fungus that...

11 Comments

Ed Cara Ed Cara Oct 25, 2018. 11 comments

Scientists Think They Can Use Silver to Help Kill Brain-Eating Amoebas

Scientists Think They Can Use Silver to Help Kill Brain-Eating Amoebas

In folklore and movies, silver is often one of the best tools against terrifying monsters like vampires and werewolves. But a recent study seems to show that silver could help defeat some real-life horrors, too. Silver nanoparticles loaded with common anti-seizure drugs might be able to safely and effectively treat brain-eating infections caused by amoebas, the study found.

Amoebas are...

11 Comments

Kim Kelly Kim Kelly Oct 25, 2018. 12 comments

Real-Life 'Zombie' Animals Walk the Earth Thanks to Thousands of Parasites

Real-Life 'Zombie' Animals Walk the Earth Thanks to Thousands of Parasites

Consider the ladybug. Our polka-dotted little friend spends its days munching aphids, climbing leaves, occasionally alighting upon a delighted child’s outstretched finger, and generally beetling around being adorable. It’s one of nature’s most inoffensive critters, which is perhaps why the Dinocampus coccinellae wasp is such a troubling one by comparison. See, in order to lay her egg, the...

12 Comments

George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Sep 28, 2018. 18 comments

Moths Caught Drinking Tears From the Eyes of Sleeping Birds

Moths Caught Drinking Tears From the Eyes of Sleeping Birds

In an oddly poetic act, moths will on occasion drink the tears from the eyes of a sleeping bird. Sounds harmless, but this rare interaction is an unmistakably one-sided affair.

Scientists actually have a word for this unique tear-feeding behavior, which they call “lachryphagy.” To feed in this way, moths gently insert their straw-like proboscis into the eyes of their unwary hosts, sucking out...

18 Comments

Ed Cara Ed Cara Aug 21, 2018. 6 comments

We Need to Pay More Attention to a Deadly Disease Spread by Kissing Bugs, Heart Doctors Warn

We Need to Pay More Attention to a Deadly Disease Spread by Kissing Bugs, Heart Doctors Warn

A disease that often causes no symptoms, but which can suddenly become fatal years after a person was infected, is receiving a big spotlight from the American Heart Association (AHA). On Monday, the organization published a scientific statement in its journal Circulation, urging heart doctors in the U.S. to start paying attention to Chagas disease, a parasitic infection mainly spread by...

6 Comments

Ed Cara Ed Cara Aug 09, 2018. 19 comments

Oh Great, Americans Have a New Tick to Worry About

Oh Great, Americans Have a New Tick to Worry About

Ticks and insects in general are steadily spreading across the United States and causing more disease, aided by an ever-cozier climate. If that’s not bad enough, though, it’s almost certain that an invasive species of tick, newly discovered last year, has firmly established America as its home. And this tick is potentially capable of causing even more frightening illnesses.

The Asian...

19 Comments

Ed Cara Ed Cara Aug 01, 2018. 6 comments

A Parasitic Disease Spread by Sandflies Is More Common in the U.S. Than Previously Thought

A Parasitic Disease Spread by Sandflies Is More Common in the U.S. Than Previously Thought

A disease spread by sandflies seen as an exotic nuisance in the U.S. might not be solely a traveler’s disease after all. A new study published Wednesday in JAMA Dermatology suggests that most American cases of leishmaniasis are actually spread by native bugs, not caught while traveling. And thanks to climate change, the parasitic illness may become even more common in the years to...

6 Comments

Ed Cara Ed Cara Jul 15, 2018. 17 comments

People Are Getting Sick With a Parasite After Eating McDonald's Salads

People Are Getting Sick With a Parasite After Eating McDonald's Salads

Even under the best of circumstances, ordering salad at McDonald’s is a dicey endeavor. But now an outbreak of the foodborne parasite cyclospora has sickened over 100 people in Iowa and Illinois since May, and several cases are tied to salads purchased at the fast food giant.

The outbreaks were jointly reported Thursday by Iowa and Illinois health officials. In Illinois, about 90 cases have...

17 Comments

Ed Cara Ed Cara Jul 15, 2018. 12 comments

Doctors Find Tapeworm Larvae in Spine of Woman Hobbled by 'Electric Shocks' in Legs

Doctors Find Tapeworm Larvae in Spine of Woman Hobbled by 'Electric Shocks' in Legs

A tapeworm that normally infects barn animals and dogs came as a literal shock for one 35-year-old French woman, according to a case report published Thursday in The New England Journal of Medicine. The woman learned her three-month ordeal of worsening muscle weakness and electrical zaps in both legs was ultimately caused by worms that had lodged themselves inside her spine.

By the time the...

12 Comments

Ed Cara Ed Cara Jun 26, 2018. 7 comments

This Woman's Horrifying Selfies Helped Track the Parasitic Worm Crawling in Her Face

This Woman's Horrifying Selfies Helped Track the Parasitic Worm Crawling in Her Face

A woman’s selfies helped her monitor the movements of an unwelcome guest: a roving parasitic worm living in her face. Thankfully, doctors were able to get the pesky pest—which she likely caught overseas from a mosquito—out of her body without any problems.

The woman’s unsettling story was detailed in a case report published by her doctors this month in the New England Journal of Medicine....

7 Comments

Ryan F. Mandelbaum Ryan F. Mandelbaum May 04, 2018. 9 comments

Mistletoe Somehow Survives Without Protein Needed by All Other Multicellular Life

Mistletoe Somehow Survives Without Protein Needed by All Other Multicellular Life

Mistletoe might be a nice yuletide decoration, but it’s also a nefarious, parasitic badass that preys upon a series of hosts. Apparently one species has decided it no longer needs a protein that every other multicellular organism on Earth requires to live.

European mistletoe seems to survive without a protein indispensable for life called “complex I,” two independent teams of researchers are...

9 Comments

Ed Cara Ed Cara Feb 21, 2018. 8 comments

After Eight Days of Itchy Eyes, Oregon Woman Finds 14 Worms

After Eight Days of Itchy Eyes, Oregon Woman Finds 14 Worms

It’s a medical discovery you’d hate to be part of: A 26-year-old Oregon woman is believed to be the first human ever reported to be infected with a certain species of eye worm.

The woman’s case, reported in the American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene Monday, began in the summer of 2015, soon after she returned home from a ranch in Gold Beach, Oregon, where she had been horseback...

8 Comments

George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Jan 13, 2018. 20 comments

Stop Feeding Your Pets Raw Meat

Stop Feeding Your Pets Raw Meat

An emerging trend among pet owners is the practice of feeding dogs and cats raw meat. This idea is that we should put our domestic cats and dogs on diets that more closely approximate what they might eat in nature. New research from Europe shows the surprising degree to which germs and parasites can be found in commercial raw-meat products—posing potential health risks to both pets and their...

20 Comments

Jake Buehler Jake Buehler Dec 16, 2017. 8 comments

New Evidence From Ancient Amber Shows Dinosaurs Were Plagued by Ticks

New Evidence From Ancient Amber Shows Dinosaurs Were Plagued by Ticks

New research on 100 million year-old amber with ticks preserved inside indicates these tiny, annoying critters have been around for a long time—and that dinosaurs were among their hosts.

Acquiring ticks is a nasty consequence of doing basically anything outdoors during the warmer months. Whether you’re hiking, doing yard work, or camping, there’s a decent chance you’ll need to regularly check...

8 Comments

George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Nov 10, 2017. 19 comments

The Fungus That Turns Ants Into Zombies Is More Diabolical Than We Realized

The Fungus That Turns Ants Into Zombies Is More Diabolical Than We Realized

Carpenter ants of the Brazilian rain forest have it rough. When one of these insects gets infected by a certain fungus, it turns into a so-called “zombie ant” and is no longer in control of its actions. Manipulated by the parasite, an infected ant will leave the cozy confines of its arboreal home and head to the forest floor—an area more suitable for fungal growth. After parking itself on the...

19 Comments

George Dvorsky George Dvorsky Oct 06, 2017. 13 comments

Watch Freakishly Agile Lice Swing on Pubes Like Trapeze Artists

Watch Freakishly Agile Lice Swing on Pubes Like Trapeze Artists

If you’ve ever had to deal with an infestation of lice, you know that these parasites really like to get in there. A horrifying new video reveals the mad acrobatic chops that enable lice to make your hair their home, flinging themselves from strand to strand with the greatest of ease.

A new case study in The New England Journal of Medicine tells a torrid tale of an unnamed 65-year-old man who...

13 Comments

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