Although it’s smaller than the head of a pin, this tiny hookworm egg represents a big problem. Over half a billion people around the world are infected with hookworms every year – parasites that live in the guts, causing stunted growth in children, complications in pregnancy, and other serious health problems. Hookworm infection is treated with drugs called benzimidazoles, but because farm animals are also treated in the same way, many parasites have developed resistance to this therapy. Monitoring how drug resistant hookworms are spreading through populations usually relies on reading the DNA of the worms and their eggs in faeces samples, but doing this quickly in the developing world – where advanced lab equipment might not be easily available – is a challenge. Scientists have now developed a faster, quicker test to spot drug resistant hookworms out in the wild, which should help researchers to track and control infections more effectively.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.