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Rare Flesh-Eating Parasite Relative Discovered In Australia

By Donna Marie Lapena Padua , Jan 26, 2017 10:14 AM EST
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A rare flesh-eating parasite relative was recently discovered in Australia. The new parasite group is also suspected by medical experts to cause possible life-threatening diseases. Australia has now two known cases where the presence of the parasite species was seen.

A relative of the flesh-eating parasite group Leishmania was discovered by experts in Australia. There are already two reported cases where the new group of found parasites plagued one male and one female patients. The Health Authorities suspect the unrelated patients to have gotten their condition from Polynesia.

Upon studying the rare flesh-eating parasite species called Zelonia australiensis, researchers found that the group was found in an Australian black fly species that reportedly feeds on mammals and humans as well. The cases involving the exotic species of parasite then opened consciousness on tropical diseases.

"In conjunction with previous research, this study provides clues as to what these parasites are capable of,” lead author Dr. Joel Barratt of the School of Life Sciences at UTS explained in a press release by the UTS Newsroom. Barratt continued to impose awareness among the public saying: "this raises an important question: do human activities provide an increasing opportunity for human-infecting species to take up residence on Australian soil?” In line with this, the doctor said that studying neglected parasitic diseases is important so medical experts and the public can know how adaptable they can be and to come up with measures to prevent future spread.

According to the Science Alert, Australia was evaluated unequipped to deal with tropical diseases. As such, outbreaks of diseases in the country are frequent. Although there are currently only two cases of the rare flesh-eating parasite in Sydney, experts are worried that neglect might lead the rare case to an outbreak. The Guardian noted that the bacteria can penetrate the body through open wounds and can kill flesh and muscles rapidly. Hence, if not treated immediately, patients who carry the rare flesh-eating parasite might lose their limbs and might experience organ failure.

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