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  • Science Ticker

    Rat lungworm disease is popping up in the mainland United States

    Health officials have confirmed 12 cases of rat lungworm disease in the continental United States since January 2011 — including six patients who had not traveled abroad but still contracted the illness caused by a parasite endemic to tropical regions in Asia and Hawaii.

    While the disease can be mild, it can become extreme and cause severe neurological problems. In most of the new cases...

    08/03/2018 - 09:00 Health, Animals, Microbes
  • News

    A medical mystery reveals a new host for the rat lungworm parasite

    When a 78-year-old woman went to a hospital in Guangzhou, China, in November 2012 complaining of a headache, drowsiness and a stiff neck, doctors initially were puzzled. The patient had meningitis, but no signs of bacteria or viruses that can cause the illness. Then a cerebrospinal fluid test revealed she had a high number of white blood cells called eosinophils, a clue that she was fighting a...

    07/30/2018 - 17:00 Health, Animals, Microbes
  • News

    How a slime mold near death packs bacteria to feed the next generation

    In the final frenzy of reproduction and death, social amoebas secrete proteins that help preserve a starter kit of food for its offspring.

    Dictyostelium discoideum, a type of slime mold in soil, eats bacteria. Some wild forms of this species essentially farm the microbes, passing them along in spore cases that give the next generation of amoebas the beginnings of a fine local patch of...

    07/27/2018 - 15:35 Microbes, Cells, Physiology
  • Mystery Solved

    Finally, there’s a way to keep syphilis growing in the lab

    For more than a century, scientists have tried to grow Treponema pallidum, the corkscrew-shaped bacterium that causes syphilis. But the stubborn spirochete has refused to thrive any place outside of a human or rabbit for more than 18 days. That doesn’t give researchers much time to study it.

    “I’ve basically spent my entire career watching these organisms die,” says microbiologist Steven...

    07/02/2018 - 07:00 Health, Microbiology, Microbes
  • It's Alive

    How a squishy clam conquers a rock

    Burrowing giant clams have perfected the ship-in-a-bottle trick, and the one big thing that scientists convinced themselves couldn’t explain it, actually can.

    Tridacna crocea, the smallest of the 10 or so giant clam species, grows a shell that eventually reaches the size of a large fist. Starting as youngsters, the burrowers bore into the stony mass of an Indo-Pacific coral reef,...

    06/22/2018 - 07:00 Animals, Physiology, Microbes