Review by Josh Sutton
Parasitology, the study of parasites and the interactions that they have with their hosts, is an often overlooked area of biology. Parasite infections are common worldwide and cause diseases such as malaria, trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), toxoplasmosis, elephantiasis and onchocerciasis (river blindness). Because of the severity of these diseases and the suffering that they cause, parasitology is an important area of research.
Over recent years, presenter Michael Mosley has carved out a documentary niche, in which he uses himself as a human guinea pig for a variety of experiments. In this insightful programme, Mosley infests himself with a variety of parasites – including tapeworms, head lice, and leeches. Plasmodium, the genus causing malaria, is covered well in this documentary (at 25 mins until 29:45). The complex life cycle of the parasite and how it interacts with both the human host and the mosquito vector, is well explained. The microscopic images shown are also a valuable addition to the documentary, clearly showing the effect of the Plasmodium on the body’s red blood cells. Continue reading