Parasites and Infections

Swedish researchers have discovered that malaria parasites secrete a substance that makes their hosts smell attractive to mosquitos.
- THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, Malaria Parasite May Trigger Human Odor to Lure Mosquitoes, NYT, FEB. 13, 2017

It has been suggested that kissing, nearly a human universal, may serve to share viruses before conception since catching them during pregnancy may damage the fetus:

Kissing is nearly ubiquitous in human cultures (although in some it’s more like sniffing). The practice puzzles infectious disease types, because swapping saliva clearly increases the risk of contagion. But maybe that’s the point. Humans carry various chronic viral infections. Acquiring these viruses during pregnancy can harm the fetus. So romantic kissing, some scientists speculate, may allow women to acquire potentially dangerous infections from their babies’ fathers before pregnancy, increasing the odds of healthy gestation. Making out may be a crude form of self-vaccination.

- Moises Velasquez-Manoff, Microbes, a Love Story, NYT, FEB. 10, 2017

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