Apr. 5, 2005 PhD students Anthony Martin and Graeme Brown from the Faculty of Science and Information Technology have just published research that shows lice could be a source of disease transmission.
Previous work released in 2003 detected a disease causing microbe Anaplasma platys in Brown Dog ticks and they now have isolated the same microbe in dog louse
.“Perhaps this research raises more questions than it answers,” says their supervisor, Associate Professor Tim Roberts.
“It is important to understand that if the tick and the lice carry this microbe then is it possible that other blood sucking insects such as the flea, mosquito and the mite may also carry it?”
“The next question,” says Professor Roberts,” is, if they carry the disease causing microbe, can they transmit it to the host animal and then does this have dangers for humans?”
Anaplasma platys affects blood platelets and it can be fatal in dogs.
The researchers stress that what they have discovered is in the Brown Dog tick of northern and central Australia and louse that use dogs as a host.The research is not connected with common head lice.
“We don’t have any evidence as yet that the microbe can be transmitted to humans but there is the potential for transmission of infectious agents by blood sucking insects from animals to humans,” he said.
“Insects may do this in different ways. Some are mechanical transmissions such as a blood to blood transfer and others biological, in that they must go through certain stages of their cycle within the host to affect the transfer.”
“It has been known for many years that lice were responsible for the transmission of trench fever and typhus during the first world war, but they have been seen as a nuisance in more recent times rather than potential disease carriers.”
“What this does alert us to is the necessity to carry out more research in to the area,” said Professor Roberts.
PhD Students Anthony Martin and Graeme Brown’s work has been published in Experimental Parasitology and the Australian Veterinary Journal.
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