Scientists Just Named A New Parasite After Obama

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter
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President Barack Obama has become the first president to have a bloodsucking parasite named after him.

Scientists gave a newly discovered parasitic flatworm the name “Baracktrema obamai,” and it’s not really clear whether this is intended to be an insult or compliment.

“Baracktrema obamai” have long, thin thread-like bodies and have been found living inside the lungs of two species of freshwater turtles in Malaysia. The parasites use a sucker to latch onto their host to feed.

It is not clear if “Baracktrema obami” can infect humans, but they are related to worms that can. Parasites can eat the tissues of their hosts and produce toxic waste, which can cause debilitating health problems in the infected.

President Barack Obama is apparently the fifth cousin, twice-removed of one of the scientists who discovered the worm. Previously, parasites have been named after individuals as a form of revenge. The worm represents both a new genus and species of parasitic flatworm. Obama already has a spider, a fish and a dinosaur named after him.

Similar flatworms cause several diseases in humans and livestock and typically live inside their hosts, eating half-digested food that is found in their intestines.  They live in extremely tropical areas and are spread in fecal matter or unclean drinking water.

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