Ancient parasite highlights humans' role in spread of disease

June 20, 2014 7:08 AM

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Ancient parasite highlights humans' role in spread of disease

The discovery of a schistosomiasis parasite egg in a 6,200-year-old grave in Syria may be the earliest evidence that agricultural irrigation systems in the Middle East contributed to a vast spread of disease, scientists said on Friday.

Schistosomiasis - also known as bilharzia, snail fever, or Katayama fever - is caused by flatworm parasites that live in the blood vessels of the bladder and intestines. The infection can lead to anaemia, kidney failure and bladder cancer.

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