Toxoplasma gondii is the causative agent of the disease known as toxoplasmosis. The parasite was first discovered by Charles Nicolle and Louis Manceaux in 1908. They initially named the parasite Leishmania gondii thinking that it belonged to the Leishmania genus. However, once they realized they discovered a new organism, they named it Toxoplasma gondii, from the Greek toxo, meaning arc or bow, and plasma, meaning something that is shaped or molded. The parasite’s definitive host is the cat in which T. gondii can sexually reproduce.
Life Under the Microscope: Giardia lamblia
Giardiasis, also known as “beaver fever”, is caused by an infection with the gastrointestinal parasite, Giardia lamblia. This parasite was first discovered by the “Father of the Microscope”, Antoine van Leeuwenhoek, and later described by and named after Alfred Mathieu Giard and Vilém Dušan Lambl.
Life Under the Microscope: Trypanosoma brucei
First discovered by Sir David Bruce in 1894, Trypanosoma brucei is the causative agent of African trypanosomiasis, also known as “sleeping sickness”. It is prevalent in tropical and subtropical regions of Africa. Trypanosoma brucei consists of a group of three organisms: T. brucei gambiense, T. brucei rhodesiense, and T. brucei brucei. While all of these organisms cause trypanosomiasis, T. brucei brucei only infects animals and is not pathogenic in humans. All of these organisms within the disease share the same vector, the tsetse fly.
Life Under the Microscope: Babesia microti
First reported by Victor Babes in 1888, Babesia microti is an intracellular parasite that infects red blood cells, and its related infectious disease is known as babesiosis. The vector of the disease is the tick of the Ixodes species, also the vector of Borrelia burgdorferi , the bacterium that causes Lyme disease. For this reason, coinfections of babesiosis and Lyme disease are common.
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