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Impact of Climate Change on Parasitic Infections

New research demonstrates how climate change and the immune reaction of the infected individual can affect the long-term and seasonal dynamics of parasite infections. The study, led by Penn State University scientists, assessed the infection dynamics of two species of soil-transmitted parasites in a population of rabbits in Scotland every month for 23 years. The study's results could lead to new strategies for the treatment and prevention of infections from similar parasites in humans, livestock, and wildlife. A paper describing the research will be published in the online Early Edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences during the week ending February 19, 2016.

"Our research shows that how we target treatment for parasite infections -- not only in wildlife like the rabbits we studied, but also in humans and livestock -- will depend on how the climate changes and whether or not the host can mount an effective immune response," said Isabella Cattadori, associate professor of biology at Penn State and a research scientist affiliated with Penn State's Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics and Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences.

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