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People, Parasites, and PlowsharesLearning From Our Body's Most Terrifying Invaders$
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Dickson Despommier

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231161947

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231161947.001.0001

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Nature Has All the Answers. What’s Your Question?

Nature Has All the Answers. What’s Your Question?

(p.163) 8 Nature Has All the Answers. What’s Your Question?
People, Parasites, and Plowshares

Dickson D. Despommier

William C. Campbell

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines the life cycle of Onchocerca volvulus. Onchocerca volvulus is a nematode that causes onchocerciasis or “river blindness.” The life cycle of this parasite begins when an infected female black fly of the genus Simulium bites its host. The worms then mature inside the subcutaneous tissues, just underneath the skin. They induce the host to produce a nodule of tissue, often reaching the size of a walnut, where the worms will dwell and lay eggs. The adult parasites also coax the host to supply extension of their body blood circulation to obtain nutrients. The larvae of the worm, called microfilariae, would then irritate the subcutaneous tissues, causing the corneal stroma to thicken, until the host becomes blind.

Keywords:   Onchocerca volvulus, river blindness, nematode, parasites, parasitic infection, onchocerciasis

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