Thursday, March 25, 2010

War of the parasites

Malaria, a disease that reportedly causes "more than 1 million deaths annually", is caused by a mosquito-borne parasite. But, another blood parasite--this one carried by ticks--may provide malaria resistance.

Like malaria, Babesia parasites "infect a wide variety of mammalian hosts". Of the human "population infected with Babesia microti, 25% of adults and 50% of children remain asymptomatic" (without noticeable symptoms). "A new study suggests that monkeys chronically infected with babesiosis, a tick-borne parasite, are able to suppress malaria infection when exposed to a simian malaria parasite." Other coinfection studies in rodents indicate cross-protection. Researchers conclude that "ongoing infection with B. microti parasites leads to suppression of malaria infection" and may provide a way to combat malaria.

American Society for Microbiology (2010, March 24). Infection with tickborne parasite may suppress malaria. Retrieved March 25, 2010.

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