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Papers of the Week

2022 Jun 04




The Tails of Two Avian Schistosomes: Paired Exposure Study Demonstrates Penetrates Human Skin More Readily than a Novel Avian Schistosome from .


A novel schistosome from snails currently known as avian schistosomatid sp. C (ASC) was recently described as being capable of causing the papules associated with swimmer's itch. We conducted a paired study with 24 human volunteers, exposing each of their forearms to five drops of water containing cercariae of ASC or and examined the skin for papules 1-3 days later. A mixed effects model showed that only the parasite species significantly affected the number of papules, while prior experimental exposure, swimming history, and swimmer's itch experience did not. The total number of papules produced by the two species were very different: ASC produced a total of 2 papules from the 298 cercariae used, compared to 49 papules from 160 cercariae, a difference factor of more than 43X, which was comparable to the odds ratio of 45.5 computed using the statistical model. A well-known agent of swimmer's itch, is able to penetrate human skin more frequently than ASC, likely meaning that ASC is only a minor cause of swimmer's itch where is present. We also completed limited experiments that compared the cercarial behavior of the two species and in situ. A known stimulant of schistosome cercarial penetration, α-linolenic acid, did not stimulate ASC cercariae to initiate penetration-associated behaviors as frequently as . However, when placed on esophageal tissue of the known vertebrate host for ASC, Canada goose (), ASC cercariae were observed penetrating the esophageal epithelium quickly, whereas cercariae did not exhibit any penetration behaviors.