Parasite infections affected by climate change and immune response, study finds

Scientists from Penn State in University Park, Pa., have discovered the long-term and seasonal dynamics of parasite infections are affected by climate change and the immune response of those infected.

The scientists conducted the study using two species of soil-transmitted parasites in a population of rabbits in Scotland, examining infection dynamics every month for more than two decades.

"Over the course of 23 years, we saw clear evidence of climate warming at our study site in Scotland. The warmer climate leads to increases in the number of soil-transmitted parasites in the pastures where the rabbits live because the parasites can survive longer in the soil," said Isabella Cattadori, PhD, Penn State research scientist. "With more parasites, there is an increased risk of infection, but how this increased risk affects the severity of the infection in the long term depends on the ability of the host to mount an immune response."

Ultimately, the findings of the study could lead to new strategies for the treatment and prevention of infections from similar parasites in humans, as well as livestock and wildlife.



More articles on parasites:
Texas faces growing threat of Chagas disease from so-called 'kissing bug'
CDC scientists discover cancer case that developed from parasitic tapeworm
Cyclosporiasis outbreaks tied to cilantro from Mexico: 5 things to know

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