Tags: 6200-year-old | parasite | found | child | skeleton

6,200-Year-Old Parasite Found in Child's Skeletal Remains

By    |   Friday, 20 Jun 2014 06:05 PM

Scientists have found evidence of a flatworm parasite in a child skeleton that is 6,200 years old.

In The Lancet, scientists published their findings of a parasite egg, the earliest found evidence of flatworms.

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Flatworms typically live on water snails in warm, fresh water, and will burrow into people when they enter the water. Once under the skin, they move through blood vessels into the abdomen where they can live and grow for years, even laying eggs.

The worms are not found in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Flatworms can cause schistosomiasis, a disease the CDC says is second only to malaria in terms of world-wide impact of parasitic diseases.

Schistosomiasis symptoms are caused not by the worms, but by the eggs. Children repeatedly infected can develop anemia, malnutrition, and learning difficulties; years of infections can lead to liver, intestine, spleen, lungs, and bladder damage.

The researchers who found the 6,200-year-old flatworm were studying parasites in prehistoric burial sites in northern Syria. They speculated that during the time the child lived, people were just starting to irrigate to grow crops and would have spent a lot of their time wading in warm water.

"Egypt along the Nile was a hotspot for generations because people were crammed into the flood plain and there were probably a lot of people who had low-level (flatworm) infections for their entire lives," Quentin Bickle, a parasite expert at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told The Associated Press. "People would have known there was something weird going on but they wouldn't have known what to do about it."

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Scientists have found evidence of a flatworm parasite in a child skeleton that is 6,200 years old.
6200-year-old, parasite, found, child, skeleton
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2014-05-20
Friday, 20 Jun 2014 06:05 PM
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