Friday, April 07, 2006

Eat a worm, help science

From Science News, this amusing note about a 16-year old girl in Massachusetts. She apparently got talked into eating an earthworm by a "friend," then caught a fairly common parasitic infection called Toxocara (roundworm). (Image of an adult roundworm from here.) Second in frequency in the US only to pinworm, it can cause pneumonia-like symptoms, and sometimes affects the eyes and liver.) The parasite lives in cats and dogs, and usually affects children of pet-owners when they play outside in contaminated dirt. Although Toxocara infections in people is pretty common, it's been very hard to nail down how long it takes from infection to the time when symptoms appear, 'cause most kids spend a lot of time playing outside in contaminated dirt. In this case, though, the earthworm was the only possible way the girl could have gotten infected, so now they know that the incubation period of Toxocara is about four weeks. Hooray for science and double-dog dares!

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At 4:10 PM, Blogger Annie said...

This is the most awesomest science news I have read today. And I read a lot of science news. And I thought my graduate training in parasitology was totally superfluous...


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