Interacting parasites




Parasitism is the most popular life-style on Earth, and many vertebrates host more than one kind of parasite at a time. A common assumption is that parasite species rarely interact, because they often exploit different tissues in a host, and this use of discrete resources limits competition (1). On page 243 of this issue, however, Telfer et al. (2) provide a convincing case of a highly interactive parasite community in voles, and show how infection with one parasite can affect susceptibility to others. If some human parasites are equally interactive, our current, disease-by-disease approach to modeling and treating infectious diseases is inadequate (3).

Telfer et al.'s study—which involved tracking infections of four different parasites by taking blood samples from nearly 6000 wild voles (Microtus agrestis) over 5 years—helps highlight our growing understanding of how parasites can interact in complex ways (see the figure). What are some of the take-home messages?

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Interacting parasites
Series title Science
DOI 10.1126/science.1196915
Volume 330
Issue 6001
Year Published 2010
Language English
Publisher American Association for the Advancement of Science
Contributing office(s) Western Ecological Research Center
Description 2 p.
First page 187
Last page 188
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