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Getting rid of snails is effective at stopping snail fever

person holding snail

Amphibious and aquatic snails like this one are a weak link in the life cycle of parasites that cause snail fever. 

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To stop snail fever, control the snails.

That’s the takeaway of a new study of snail fever, or schistosomiasis, a tropical disease that affects more than 250 million people worldwide. It’s caused by a water-borne parasite that reproduces inside some snails. Parasite larvae burrow through people’s skin and can cause infertility, cognitive problems and even cancer. Today, most countries manage the disease with a drug that kills the parasite in human hosts. Some nations also control snail populations to hamstring the parasite’s life cycle, but that’s a less popular approach.

But snail control turns out to be more effective than drugs for curbing snail fever, researchers report July 21 in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. The scientists compared a range of disease management strategies in 83 countries in the last century that included killing snails, using drugs or changing infrastructure (such as sanitation services). Projects using snail control cut disease by over 90 percent; those without it, by less than 40 percent.

The researchers suggest a blend of drug therapy and snail management to eradicate disease in the future. 

Particle Physics,, Cosmology,, Physics

Latest search for dark matter comes up empty

By Emily Conover 4:30am, July 21, 2016
Scientists continue to come up empty-handed in the search for dark matter. The latest effort from the LUX experiment found no evidence for dark matter.
Animals,, Ecology

Some primates prefer nectar with a bigger alcohol kick

By Helen Thompson 2:00pm, July 20, 2016
Aye-ayes and slow lorises may be able to discern the alcohol content of boozy nectar and go for more potent drinks.
Planetary Science

40 years ago, Viking 1 pioneered U.S. exploration on Mars

By Christopher Crockett 7:00am, July 20, 2016
Forty years ago, Viking 1 became the first U.S. mission to land safely on the surface of Mars.
Cancer,, Health

IVF doesn’t up long-term breast cancer risk, study says

By Helen Thompson 11:38am, July 19, 2016
A Dutch study of more than 25,000 women over two decades suggests that IVF-treated women are no more likely to get breast cancer than other women.

First case of woman-to-man spread of Zika via sex reported

By Meghan Rosen 11:33am, July 15, 2016
The first known case of female-to-male sexual transmission of Zika virus has been reported in New York City.

Risk of travelers to Olympics sparking new Zika outbreaks low

By Meghan Rosen 12:26pm, July 13, 2016
Just four countries — Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea and Yemen — bear a substantial risk of bringing Zika virus home from the Olympics and having it spread, the CDC says.
Animals,, Evolution

How snails breathe through snorkels on land

By Susan Milius 7:05pm, July 12, 2016
Shells with a tube counterintuitively sealed at the end have hidden ways to let Asian snails snorkel while sealed in their shells.
Planetary Science

New dwarf planet discovered lurking beyond Neptune

By Christopher Crockett 5:30pm, July 12, 2016
Newly discovered dwarf planet 2015 RR245 takes about 700 years to orbit the sun and lives among the icy boulders of the Kuiper belt.

How one patient spread MERS to 82 people

By Tina Hesman Saey 6:30pm, July 8, 2016
One person passed the Middle East respiratory syndrome virus to 82 others during an outbreak in South Korea in 2015.
Planetary Science

The Juno spacecraft is now in orbit around Jupiter

By Christopher Crockett 11:58pm, July 4, 2016
NASA’s Juno spacecraft successfully entered orbit around Jupiter, beginning a 20-month investigation of the giant planet’s interior.
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