Worms and malaria: Blind men feeling the elephant?

  • Nacher M
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For thousands of years the deadliest human parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, has been evolving in populations also infected by the most prevalent parasites, worms. This is likely to have shaped the genome of all 3 protagonists--man, worms and malaria. Observational studies in Thailand have shown that although P. falciparum malaria incidence increased two-fold in helminth-infected patients, there was a 64% reduction of cerebral malaria and an 84% reduction of acute renal failure in helminth-infected patients relative to those without helminths. In addition, it was suggested that mixed infections, anaemia and gametocyte carriage were more frequent in helminth-infected patients. On the contrary, fever was lower in helminth-infected patients. The present hypotheses, their implications and the limitations of the results described and of those from studies in Africa are discussed.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Co-infection
  • Immunomodulation
  • Malaria
  • Worms

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  • M. Nacher

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