Parasitic infection severity changes with time of infection, study shows

The severity of a parasitic infection can vary depending on time of the day the body is infected, according to research published in Scientific Reports.

Researchers studied Leishmania, a parasite that causes leishmaniasis, which affects several internal organs — usually the spleen, liver and bone marrow, according to the CDC. There are no vaccines or drugs to prevent the infection.

Researchers found when mice were injected with the parasite, their immune response changed according to the time the infection occurred. The infection was more effective in the early night, when the immune response to the parasite was the strongest. The parasite thrives when it causes a strong immune response, attracting inflammatory cells to the infection site. The parasite uses inflammatory cells to multiply.

"We already knew that viral and bacterial infections were controlled by our immune system's circadian rhythms, but this is the first time this is shown for a parasitic infection, and for a vector-transmitted infection," said Professor Nicolas Cermakian of McGill University in Quebec, Canada.

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