Ancient Italian fossils reveal risk of parasitic infections due to climate change

From Eurekalert

Rise in trematodes could occur much sooner than thought, according to new Mizzou study

University of Missouri-Columbia

IMAGE: Location map, cross-section, and images of parasitized Abra segmentum valves. A-Location map of investigated Po coastal plain sector, Italy B-Cross section illustrating core samples. C-Photomicrographs of A. segmentum with trematode-induced… view more Credit: Scientific Reports

In 2014, a team of researchers led by a paleobiologist from the University of Missouri found that clams from the Holocene Epoch (that began 11,700 years ago) contained clues about how sea level rise due to climate change could foreshadow a rise in parasitic trematodes, or flatworms. The team cautioned that the rise could lead to outbreaks in human infections if left unchecked. Now, an international team from Mizzou and the Universities of Bologna and Florida has found that rising seas could be detrimental to human health on a much shorter time scale. Findings from their study in northern Italy suggest that parasitic infections could increase in the next century, if history repeats itself.


Trematodes are internal parasites that affect mollusks and other invertebrates inhabiting estuarine environments, which are the coastal bodies of brackish water connecting rivers to the open sea. John Huntley, assistant professor of geological sciences in the MU College of Arts and Science, studied the prehistoric clams as a senior visiting fellow for the Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of Bologna, Italy. With core samples taken from the Po River plain in Italy, the team found traces made by trematodes on the shells of the clams disclosing the connections between the ancient clams and climate change.

“The forecasts of increasing global temperatures and sea level rise have led to major concerns about the response of parasites to climate change,” Huntley said. “Italy has a robust environmental monitoring program, so there was a wealth of information to examine.”

Ancient trematodes had soft bodies; therefore, they didn’t leave body fossils. However, infected clams developed oval-shaped pits around the parasite in the attempt to keep it out, and it’s the prevalence of those pits and their makeup that provide clues as to what happened during different eras in time.

Using 61 samples collected from a drill core obtained by the Italian government for geological research, the scientists examined trematode traces and matched the information to existing records measuring sea level and salinity rises through the ages.

“We found that pulses in sea-level rise occurred on the scale of hundreds of years, and that correlated to rises in parasitic trematodes in the core samples,” Huntley said. “What concerns me is that these rises are going to continue to happen and perhaps at accelerated rates. This poses grave concerns for public health and ecosystem services. These processes could increase parasitism in not only estuarine systems but also in freshwater settings. Such habitats are home to the snail hosts of blood flukes, which infect and kill a million or more people globally each year. What’s scary is it could potentially affect the generations of our kids or grandkids.”

Huntley and his team think that the discoveries they continue to make about impending climate change could provide a good road map for conservationists and those making decisions about marine environments worldwide.


The study, “Surges in trematode prevalence liPnked to centennial-scale flooding events in the Adriatic,” recently was published in Scientific Reports, a journal of Nature. Funding was provided by the National Science Foundation (EAR-1650745 and EAR-1559196), the Institute of Advanced Studies at the University of Bologna, Unkelsbay Fund of the Department of Geological Sciences at Mizzou and the University of Bologna.

Daniele Scarponi, assistant professor of paleontology at the University of Bologna; Michele Azzarone, a doctoral student in the Department of Biological, Geological, and Environmental Sciences at the University of Bologna; and Micha? Kowalewski, a professor and Jon L. and Beverly A. Thompson Chair of Invertebrate Paleontology at the University of Florida contributed to the study. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funding agencies.

Editor’s Note: For more on the story, please see:

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.


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Viv Forbes
July 23, 2017 8:09 pm

I get two of these emails from WUWT every time sent to the same address. Could you stop one please.
Viv Forbes

Reply to  Viv Forbes
July 23, 2017 9:41 pm

I THINK at the bottom of the email is a link to a page you can use to unsubscribe from one of them.

July 23, 2017 8:32 pm

This study sounds a little dubious. It is not clear why global warming, which would change the range of the clam just as much as the range of the parasite, would have any detectable effect.
Actually, the problem with parasites and disease in marine and terrestrial ecosystems is that they are population density dependent. A few years ago, the population density of lobsters in Long Island Sound rose quite nicely and then crashed because a disease passed quickly through the dense population. Oh, and the high lobster population density was NOT because of global warming, as there has been none so far this century.
So, if the clams like the warmer conditions and thrive, thus increasing their population density, they would also be ripe for a parasite epidemic. Once the epidemic was done, the population density would be back to normal.
This reminds me of the Texas professor a few years back who surveyed the North American large mammals and found that the populations were all either going up or going down, showing that global warming affected all species. Of course, the rube was ignoring the predator-prey cycles observed in all species in which the populations are constantly changing from boom to bust to boom again in both the predator and the prey. She had reinvented a basic Biology 101 principle and repackaged it as a global warming effect. Cute, but wrong, and published as a lie.
No news here folks, move along.

Reply to  higley7
July 24, 2017 12:21 am

It sounds dubious all right. Reminds me of a speech by Lord Monckton, where he stated that it would be difficult for anyone to seek a grant for study, without tacking on the all-purpose rider “ the face of Climate Change™®©”.

Bryan A
Reply to  ЯΞ√ΩLUT↑☼N
July 24, 2017 2:32 pm

What I got from it is:
In the past, around 11,700 years ago during the Holocene Epoch, there was an outbreak of Flateorms afffecting Bivalves of the time period. This outbreak was presumably due to wetland inundation of brakish water caused by Rising Oceans (from Ice Melt??). It is then hypothesized that the Current rising sea levels could cause the same problem again and could affect the human population.
Now it would seem to me that this really indicates that the current temperatures are most likely NOT as high as they were then if the current sea level is insufficient to be causing the same problem to date. This would also indicate Higher sea levels than today were present at some point in the prior 11,700 years.
So over the last 11,700 years or so…
Early Holocene must have been Warmer than today
Sea Levels must have been Higher than today
Arctic Ocean must have been reasonably Ice Free
and ALL due to natural causes

Bryan A
Reply to  ЯΞ√ΩLUT↑☼N
July 24, 2017 2:35 pm

Oh, and this presumed affect (from rising temperatures) won’t become apparent for another hundred years or so

Reply to  higley7
July 24, 2017 2:57 am

Dubious? It’s juvenile.

Reply to  higley7
July 24, 2017 8:08 am

It’s all good….they used “could”…and of course, didn’t qualify by how much
…pass out the praziquantel

Reply to  higley7
July 24, 2017 10:11 am

Another in the never ending series of studies that show that climate change increases the number of harmful creatures while reducing the number of helpful creatures.
It is truly amazing how selective Mother Nature is, able to evolve creatures based upon their effect on humans. Proof positive that humans are the most important creature on the planet.

Reply to  ferdberple
July 24, 2017 10:19 am

Warmer is better for all life forms, to include parasites.
Just compare and contrast the diversity of life in polar regions with the tropics. Sure, there are fewer infective organisms in the Arctic (and their virtual absence in the Antarctic), but who wouldn’t prefer to live where it’s warmer, despite the higher incidence of pathogens there.

Reply to  ferdberple
July 25, 2017 6:38 am

Warmer is better, and the shorter the life cycle, the more quickly they are able to take advantage of it.
I’m guessing that the life cycle of a nemtode is a lot shorter than the life cycle of a clam.
My point is, that after a few years, everything evens out again.

Reply to  higley7
July 24, 2017 10:25 am

Agreed higley7!
Small very localized sample size.
Discard of data.
Statistics abuse.
Huge assumptions!
Infestations are assumed to coincide with and thus proving sea level rise.
Sea levels will drastically rise.
Sea level rises will also increase infestations in fresh water.
Looks like another researcher wasting research funds travelling to extremely pleasant vacation spots on Italy’s Adriatic coast, collecting meager core samples on which to base catastrophic global warming alarms.
His funding should be frozen and hopefully eliminated.

Reply to  ATheoK
July 24, 2017 1:02 pm

Technology will no doubt rise to the occasion , along with the Sea levels.. A rising tide floats ALL boats..Isn’t that what they say??

Bryan A
Reply to  ATheoK
July 24, 2017 2:36 pm

Unless they have a short anchor chain

Reply to  ATheoK
July 25, 2017 6:39 am

Depends on how well the anchor is anchored.

Reply to  higley7
July 24, 2017 10:56 am

We have reached the “camp fire” stage of the CAGW/CACC scare mongering: ” my story is even scarier than yours..” ” No, just listen to this one..”

July 23, 2017 8:32 pm

Building their paper on the weak assumptions (forecasts): “The forecasts of increasing global temperatures and sea level rise…” is not a very good start to build a narrative of doom and gloom and its effects on human health in the future.

July 23, 2017 8:32 pm

Ok now i’m really really scared.
Please go ahead and tax the hell out of my carbon footprint and save me from these bugs.

Reply to  chaamjamal
July 24, 2017 8:13 am

Yeah this climagedon induced 6th mass extinction is incredible and really scawy. Apex predators like sharks are going to increase in number and eat people, parasites will increase in number and infect people, but everything else will die off. I hope someone is taking notes on all this scawy stuff, it’s really good sci-fy B-movie material.

Reply to  RWturner
July 24, 2017 10:59 am

Shhhhh.. Be qwiete… It’s r[w]abbid season…

Walter Sobchak
July 23, 2017 8:52 pm

I will wager the things are not a problem for humans unless you eat infected seafood.

Reply to  Walter Sobchak
July 23, 2017 9:00 pm

Flukes enter humans through the soles of the feet usually. Wading in rice paddies is the most common cause.

Robert from oz
July 23, 2017 8:54 pm

So the humans around at this time were all wiped out because of it and then God stepped in and created Adam and Eve , am I on to something here or on something here ?

July 23, 2017 8:56 pm

Flukes are already a problem in SE Asia and as the article notes, millions die annually from fluke infestation. Some of the most horrific articles I’ve read show photos of human brains and livers infested by flukes. It’s thought that the use of human waste as fertilizer in SE Asian rice fields, coupled with the practice of wading through those fields in bare feet are the principal reasons the flukes are so dangerous. The route of infection/infestation is believed to be through the feet.
This appears to be yet another article seeking publication by using “climate change” as a keyword.

Don K
Reply to  Bartleby
July 23, 2017 11:42 pm

So the argument is that CLIMATE CHANGE will make Italian coastal estuaries more like those of say Southern California? The flatworms would explain why there are neither clams nor people South of San Francisco. In reality, there are quite a few folks somehow hanging on n LA, San Diego, Tijuana, Ensenada and there are plenty of bivalves in the ocean there.
In any case, pollution will probably kill off the flatworms before climate change makes them a problem.

Moderately Cross of East Anglia
Reply to  Bartleby
July 24, 2017 2:49 am

Actually eating marinated (uncooked) river or lake fish in South East Asia is a major source of liver flukes infecting human populations and is in the long term a cause of liver cancers which kill very large numbers of Asians. Unfortunately tourists to Thailand, especially the north of the country, are often enticed to try the popular delicacy of marinated fish sold in little plastic bags. People assume the fish is safe to eat because it has been “pickled” – but the liver flukes are far from dead.
Be careful.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Moderately Cross of East Anglia
July 24, 2017 3:36 am

Your statement about “eating marinated (uncooked) river or lake fish in South East Asia is a major source of liver flukes infecting human populations” …….. reminded me of the reason that the follower of the religion of Islam (Muslims) are forbidden to eat pork. To wit:

Trichinella spiralis is an ovoviviparous nematode parasite, occurring in rodents, pigs, horses, bears, and humans, and is responsible for the disease trichinosis. It is sometimes referred to as the “pork worm” due to it being typically encountered in undercooked pork products.

Reply to  Moderately Cross of East Anglia
July 24, 2017 8:49 am

Yes, there are other routes and my understanding of the principals ones is based on a summer school biology class I took in 1965 so I expect things have changed since then. My instructor was very big on scaring the snot out of us with her horrors stories about exotic parasite infections. I have to admit the stories (along with the really gruesome pictures she was so fond of) made a lasting impression…

DD More
Reply to  Bartleby
July 24, 2017 8:17 am

Bartleby – Millions die annually? That would be news to the WHO.
Schistosomiasis is a parasitic infection endemic in 74 resource-poor nations that affects approximately 200 million people. Schistosomes are water-borne flatworms or blood flukes that enter the human body through the skin.
Schistosomiasis, also known as, bilharzia, bilharziasis, or snail fever, affects approximately 200 million people worldwide. Theodor Bilharz, a German surgeon who worked in Cairo, discovered schistosomiasis in 1851. Today, 120 million people are symptomatic.1 Over 80% of the disease is currently found in sub-Saharan Africa (Figure 1). According to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 652 million people are at risk with an estimated 200,000 deaths occurring annually. Forty million women of childbearing age are infected.2 WHO has placed schistosomiasis as the third most devastating tropical disease, following malaria and intestinal helminthiasis.
comment image
5 times the Death Rate published, sounds about right for ‘Globull Warming Alarmizium’.

Reply to  DD More
July 24, 2017 11:13 am

Sophistry in action!
First, introduce a separate topic and make a point against the separate topic.
Second, attribute the separate topic, called a “red herring” strawman, to the opponent.
• Bartleby referred to “flukes”, which are nematodes, often deadly to mankind.
• DD changes that to one single type of fluke and then further refers to a specific schistoma species and the disease named after it.
In other words, DD trivializes a deadly wordwide infectious parasite.
From: “Parasites In Humans”

“Trematoda class or “trematodes” are commonly known as flukes. Flukes are flat worms. Parasitic flukes live in the intestine, tissue or in the blood.
Their life cycle begins when molluscs such as snails get infected with fluke larvae. The first stage larvae are called miracidia. They have tail-like structures, cilia, for moving and finding molluscs. Depending on the fluke species the larva goes through different developmental stages which are:
Adulthood is reached inside the final host, humans. Adults reproduce either sexually or asexually. Eggs exit the body with the feces and infect new molluscs.
•Fasciola Hepatica – Liver Fluke
Fasciola hepatica is a flat worm that eats your blood and liver. Find information such as parasite life cycle, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment as well as pictures and videos.
•Fasciolopsis Buski – Intestinal Fluke
Fasciolopsis buski is a parasitic fluke that lives in your small intestine causing fasciolopsiasis (disease). Pictures, videos, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.
•Paragonimus Westermani – Lung Fluke
Paragonimus westermani is a lung fluke. It causes a parasitic disease called paragonimiasis. Symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and pictures.
•Schistosoma – Blood Flukes
Find information such as Schistosoma life cycle, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment as well as pictures and videos. Schistosoma (blood flukes) cause schistosomiasis (snail fever) in humans.”

NB Paragonimus, “lung fluke” infestations are caused by eating raw crawfish or crabmeat, even from from American waters.

Bryan A
Reply to  DD More
July 24, 2017 2:40 pm

Well DD More
That definitely proves it then
WHO knew

Reply to  Bartleby
July 24, 2017 8:21 am

comment image

Robert from oz
July 23, 2017 8:57 pm

OT but I’m hoping someone does a spread here about the floating windfarms being installed around Scotland , floating wind turbines in a stormy Scottish sea what could possibly go wrong
Reply: Story bookmarked last night. Will probably run tomorrow or Wednesday.~ctm

Reply to  Robert from oz
July 23, 2017 9:02 pm

BP and Royal Dutch Shell have been drilling for oil in the North Sea for decades. It’s a very well understood environment.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Robert from oz
July 23, 2017 9:22 pm

Robert from Oz: “floating wind turbines”
Bartleby: “drilling for oil in the north sea”
Janice: Bartleby. Put your cousin on hold and THEN read WUWT. 🙂

Janice Moore
Reply to  Janice Moore
July 23, 2017 9:27 pm

Sorry, Bartleby. Couldn’t resist. Please know that it was the quality of your fine, worthwhile, comments above which told me that your cousin must have called….. just as you started to read Robert’s comment.

Reply to  Janice Moore
July 23, 2017 9:53 pm

No apology necessary Janice, I just wish I was right enough to get the joke; my cousin called?
I figured offshore wind platforms would probably be a lot like offshore oil platforms just from the perspective of something floating around in the North Sea. From what I understand of wind turbines though, they don’t work very well in highly variable winds (which is a pretty good description of N. Sea conditions). But the thing is, we can use proven offshore drilling tech to host turbines too I’d think. We all know turbines are a lousy source of baseload power, but that’s different…

Reply to  Janice Moore
July 23, 2017 9:54 pm

“bright enough…” not “right enough”. I actually proof read that twice and still posted it.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Janice Moore
July 23, 2017 9:58 pm

Hi, Bartleby,
Well, I may be the one who is the silly commenter, not you. I only assumed (I haven’t researched it at all) that the two operations were significantly different from each other.
I take back my joke.
Thanks for being such a good sport about it!
Janice 🙂

Janice Moore
Reply to  Janice Moore
July 23, 2017 10:03 pm

Re: “bright” — You CLEARLY are, Bartleby. It was the joke that was dumb. Typos are weird, huh? When I was a proofreader for one of my many temp jobs, I could not BELIEVE all the errors I missed. More important things to think about (sniff). Heh, heh. 🙂

Tom O
Reply to  Janice Moore
July 24, 2017 9:20 am

It would be my understanding that most oil rigs aren’t really floating, that they are anchored to the bottom through legs, and the platforms are high enough to be above extreme wave height. A “floating” wind farm sounds like the floating pumping stations, and would be on board a large hull, presumably powered in case it needs to move. That being the case, the hull would have to be able to pivot into the wave fronts, and the windmill would be subject to pitching back and forth through some angle from the vertical, as the “bow” of the platform rose and fell with the waves. And wind and waves don’t have to come from the same direction as surface winds and winds 150 feet above surface might be different. I can’t see how such a windmill would last with the constant changing of the angle of loading on the bearings, but, I am not an engineer, just a person trying to understand the world around him. Also tried to envision how power cables back to land could be attached to an essentially moving windmill, but failed.

Phillip Bratby
Reply to  Robert from oz
July 23, 2017 11:20 pm

This one from Cardinal Harrabin:

Hot under the collar
Reply to  Phillip Bratby
July 24, 2017 2:19 pm

Here’s another of the BBC’s finest ‘climate change’ alarmist producers showing his true nature in a road rage incident – unbelievable!

Reply to  Phillip Bratby
July 24, 2017 6:37 pm

Top heavy corks floating in some if the stories waters in Earth. What can go wrong with that? Lolololol rift&lfmao!

Reply to  Robert from oz
July 24, 2017 11:06 am

If one of those turned turtle the MSM would simply clam up about it..

Reply to  Robert from oz
July 25, 2017 6:45 am

I’m wondering how wide the platforms would have to be keep them from capsizing in high winds. Much like Guam.

Janice Moore
July 23, 2017 9:03 pm

Okay. I started to read this article. Got about 4 or 5 paragraphs in and it just sounded like this:
Dueling Carls

Great “research” guys. (cough)

I Came I Saw I Left
Reply to  Janice Moore
July 24, 2017 4:23 am

Oh my goodness that’s hilarious.

Janice Moore
Reply to  I Came I Saw I Left
July 24, 2017 9:04 am


Smart Rock
July 23, 2017 9:27 pm

Not really on topic, but I’ve been seeing and reading quite a bit about parasites lately, and I’ve come to think that parasites are one of the things that ought to cure anyone of belief in god.
Sorry – to be more specific: parasites are one thing that ought to cure anyone capable of rational thought, of belief in a merciful god.
The standard response to that would be “we’re not supposed to question why he does what he does”
Why not?

Janice Moore
Reply to  Smart Rock
July 23, 2017 9:35 pm

Because God is too deep to explain himself to us. Like trying to explain to your dog: “This is why you have to get a vaccination today.”
The great thing is — someday, we will know. 🙂
…. then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
I. Corinthians 13:12
(See also, the book of Job)

Janice Moore
Reply to  Janice Moore
July 23, 2017 9:48 pm

Re: the merciful God standard response
My response would not have been what you wrote as standard (and I don’t think mine is anomalous). I would have replied that a God who would allow his own son to be murdered to save my life when I could do nothing for him is a God of great love. That He did that for those who did the murder = great mercy.
How can I believe the above given the horrible suffering going on as we write here? The mystery of pain suffered by innocent people and animals is something I hate, but accept. I do not understand it. Like infinity and God is 3=1, I will never “get” it; I simply accept it.
The following does NOT solve the “problem of pain” (C. S. Lewis — book of that title) for me, but, it helps in the accepting: in view of eternity (in heaven, where there is “no more death or mourning or crying or pain,” Revelation 21:4, if we believe in God’s Son before we die), our time of suffering on earth is

Reply to  Janice Moore
July 23, 2017 11:11 pm

“Because God is too deep to explain himself to us.” (how quaint).
Just like – Gore, Mann, Jones, Gavin are too deep to explain themselves to us ! ….therefore we should just accept their pronouncements without question ??
Like the Catholics using ‘gods word’ to show earth as center of universe (therefore it must be true & we should just accept without question)…Oh, they changed their minds… eventually.
I understand why a loving, merciful, all seeing god would develop parasites that eat their way into human children’s eyes & brains or give them dysentery, cholera, malaria etc after that thieving tyke Eve got her hands on gods apple; (you can understand why the majority of religions based on the torah treat women so badly [Christians read Paul]).
But what did Elm trees do wrong to deserve Dutch elm disease (knock gods apple tree over ?), fish are riddled with parasites so they must be wicked, but what did they do wrong, (did a flying fish pee on gods tree ?).

Reply to  Janice Moore
July 24, 2017 12:26 am

1saveenergy writes: “Like the Catholics using ‘gods word’ to show earth as center of universe …”
I usually avoid discussions about what God has done right or wrong, I’m a Buddhist by nature so you can understand I hope. But this one is just to ironic to pass up.
I’m familiar with the Church’s problems with Copernicus, but the irony runs deep since we’ve come to the conclusion (based on observations from the Kuiper space telescope and others) that the Earth really is the center of the universe according to current thought. The most popular interpretation of the data is the universe is isomorphic, and that, no matter where you stand in it, you are at its center. Isn’t that a hoot?
Who would have guessed the Catholics were right all along? Wonders never cease.
Please excuse me if this seems irreverent, I’ve never been very good at reverent and I’m easily amused by things like this. I guess I’m a “joyful iconoclast”…

Fred of Greenslopes
Reply to  Smart Rock
July 23, 2017 9:36 pm

God, who sees the fall of every sparrow, probably also loves parasites.

Janice Moore
Reply to  Smart Rock
July 23, 2017 9:54 pm

And Smart Rock? I think your off-topic comment was far more valuable than those authors’ study. (though I think it was a great article to post on WUWT — who better to expose the truth about the AGWers than the AGWers themselves, lol)

Reply to  Smart Rock
July 23, 2017 10:07 pm

When most people think of parasites, they don’t go the whole hog and contemplate ichneumon wasps, which lay their eggs in caterpillars and other insect larvae. Then the wasps’ larvae hatch and eat their hosts from the inside out. Or sometimes outside in. But while they are alive, finally killing the host at long last, just when the wasps are ready to pupate.
Indeed, observation of nature makes it hard to believe in a supposedly loving God. But some biblical authors foresaw this problem. as in Isaiah 45:7, in which God admits to having created evil.
This version of God is a far remove from the alleged God of love in the New Testament.

Reply to  Gloateus
July 23, 2017 10:19 pm

I’m not all that well informed on God (I was raised Methodist) but I can say I really detest parasites. The chest busting scene from “Alien” pretty much dominates my opinion of parasites.
Then there are spiders. I’m not fond of them either. Anything that eats its sex partners after breeding truly disgusts me. Maybe I’m just weird that way.

Reply to  Gloateus
July 23, 2017 10:24 pm

But are parasites really all that much worse than predators? OK, I’ll grant that carnivores which eat their prey from the inside out are creepy. But there are also parasites which don’t kill their hosts (usually), but simply live off them.
I once treated a young Vietnamese woman of about 90 pounds, who ate five hearty meals a day, plus snacks, because she was still nursing one child, while pregnant with another and also feeding a large tape worm, which couldn’t be killed until after she gave birth.

Reply to  Gloateus
July 23, 2017 10:29 pm

Are they worse than predators? I guess they are in my mind. If something is going to eat me I prefer being dead first. Just the way I roll I suppose 🙂

Reply to  Gloateus
July 24, 2017 1:19 am

Tapeworms are well-adjusted parasites. They use their hosts without killing them. This takes some time. When an infection first finds a new host species it is often deadly (like smallpox), it then gets less dangerous (the parasites who kills their host to fast often don’t have time to spread), finally it becomes a nuisance that practically everybody gets but normally doesn’t kill anyone (e. g. mumps).
The really dangerous parasites are those that normally live on somebody else (like plague or ebola). They don’t have any reason not to kill you.

Steve Fraser
Reply to  Gloateus
July 24, 2017 6:06 am

‘Evil’ is a bad translation of the Hebrew word ra’. ‘Calamity’ or ‘trouble’ would be more fitting for the context.

Reply to  Gloateus
July 24, 2017 7:53 am

“But some biblical authors foresaw this problem. as in Isaiah 45:7, in which God admits to having created evil. This version of God is a far remove from the alleged God of love in the New Testament.”
Not necessarily, Gloateus. The Hebrew word translated “evil” in that verse also carries the meaning of “adversity.” And God certainly created that:- “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (Gen 3:15.)
That’s a declaration of war, in which God will use the seed of the woman (Christ) to both redeem humanity and banish Satan. The same God of love you find in the New Testament.

Reply to  Gloateus
July 24, 2017 9:07 am

Bartleby July 23, 2017 at 10:29 pm
Predators often start eating their prey while they are still alive. Cats tend to kill their prey first, but wolves harry them to death. Even cats however will eat just a particularly delectable part, such as a cow’s udder.

Reply to  Gloateus
July 24, 2017 10:16 am

Steve and Slacko,
Nope. “Evil” is far and away the best translation of the Hebrew noun “ra'” in that passage. Indeed, almost everywhere in the OT, where it occurs frequently, it is so translated:

Reply to  Gloateus
July 24, 2017 11:17 am

tty July 24, 2017 at 1:19 am
That was certainly the pattern with syphilis. It was virulent when it first hit Europe, but over the generations became less so. Without antibiotics interrupting this evolution, it might have reached the point at which it was just another normal infection without dread consequences. At least until the spirochetes start eating your brain. But the might have evolved to lose that phase, too.

Reply to  Smart Rock
July 24, 2017 2:45 am

Lefties are also form of parasite and the question why did God create Lefties?.
One has existence of lefties as the necessary evidence of how Hell would be governed.

Reply to  gbaikie
July 24, 2017 9:14 am

We must always remember that government by it’s very definition is the worst of all parasites–creates no value, but thrives by sucking on it’s host. Infestation becomes too large, the parasite dies along with the host. Kinky Friedman—” government is polyticks. We all know what a tick is, and government is a bunch of them”

Bryan A
Reply to  Smart Rock
July 24, 2017 2:58 pm

Why might that be?
Parasites could be there to
Ensure you try to live a Clean Life
Ensure that the resident vermin population is kept in check (vermin don’t live clean lives)
Ensure that individual members of any given population don’t overstay their time here.
Ensure that sentient species have something to conquer besides other societies.
What would man have learned of Penicillin if not for bacteria?
What would man have learned of Vaccinations if not for Polio and Small Pox?
Everything in the world has a purpose, even if we don’t yet know what that is

Reply to  Smart Rock
July 25, 2017 6:49 am

SR, so your theory is that it’s the duty of God to make a perfect world in which their are no trials or tribulations?
The biggest problem with trying to figure out the plans of God is that he is working on an eternal perspective, while we humans tend to limit ourselves to the next couple of years.

July 23, 2017 10:35 pm

It was warmer then, 10,000 years ago, and sea level was higher. Now we live in the coldest 10% of that 10,000 year period. Does this article suggest that we may go back to being like we were back then? This does not appear to be a step into an unknown driven by higher atmospheric CO2 levels, but a return to a state that wasn’t caused by higher CO2 levels. Also known as natural climate change. Climate change – it’s what climate does.

Mike Bromley the Kurd
July 24, 2017 12:13 am

Er, what? Who funds these escapades into taphnomic nonsense???

Reply to  Mike Bromley the Kurd
July 24, 2017 12:33 am

From this example, I’d guess US taxpayers…
But hey, at least they raised the general awareness of flukes. Most folks (unlike Gloteus) have no idea what a fluke is much less why they should be worried about them.

July 24, 2017 1:15 am

Just a quick note off subject. Using a full stop would make the headline easier to read.

July 24, 2017 1:17 am

In 2014, a team of researchers led by a paleobiologist from the University of Missouri found that clams from the Holocene Epoch (that began 11,700 years ago) contained clues about how sea level rise due to climate change could foreshadow a rise in parasitic trematodes, or flatworms.
There doesn’t seem to be anything climate change cannot cause, except happiness, knowledge, trust, freedom, faith, hope, love, wealth and everything else positive.

The team cautioned that the rise could lead to outbreaks in human infections if left unchecked.

If what is left unchecked? In the environmental optimum about 150 years ago malaria killed people in the arctic circle countries.

July 24, 2017 1:19 am

New effort with better editing

In 2014, a team of researchers led by a paleobiologist from the University of Missouri found that clams from the Holocene Epoch (that began 11,700 years ago) contained clues about how sea level rise due to climate change could foreshadow a rise in parasitic trematodes, or flatworms.

There doesn’t seem to be anything climate change cannot cause, except happiness, knowledge, trust, freedom, faith, hope, love, wealth and everything else positive.

The team cautioned that the rise could lead to outbreaks in human infections if left unchecked.

If what is left unchecked? In the environmental optimum about 150 years ago malaria killed people in the arctic circle countries.

Mariano Marini
July 24, 2017 1:21 am

I’m completely ignorant in biology, so I have a question.
Why sea level rising makes Trematodes worst?
It seems to me like “ice-cream led to poliomyelitis” in the ’50s.

I Came I Saw I Left
Reply to  Mariano Marini
July 24, 2017 4:13 am

At least there was some degree of correlation in that case. Deaths from polio plummeted to almost nothing before the polio vaccine was introduced. Correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation, but there can’t be causation without correlation.

Alan McIntire
Reply to  I Came I Saw I Left
July 24, 2017 6:52 am

Whenever I see an article correlating wine drinking with a lower heart attack rate, drinking coffee with xxx, etc., I think of that xkcd “jelly bean” cartoon. It should take at least two tests before any SUSPICION of a relationship can be drawn, one to find the relationship, and to avoid the jelly bean fallacy, a second INDEPENDENT test to confirm, or rebut, the result.
As Jamal Munshi pointed out,
with any two trends, like eating ice cream and the incidence in polio, you’re likely to get a spurious correlation. After reading about this, and after reading an article by William Briggs on his blog regarding temperature series and the arcsine rule,
I tried it myslef with a running series of heads counting as plus 1, tails as minus 1, and ran a correlation between time, 1 to 50, against the running total of coinflips. Since standard deviation was expected to be 0.5 sqrt of 50, one could reasonably expect an average result to show about 28.5 heads to 21.5 tails, or vice versa. Running a trilal in “R” I usually got p values on the order of 10^-15 or more- nearly “impossible” that it would happen by “chance”. Once I “detrended” the series, and ran the time series, flips 1 to 50, against a random series of maybe 28 heads and 21, tails, I got p values of maybe 0.50 or so- nothing to write home about.
After that first statistical test showing a relationship between increases in polio and ice cream, The next test should have been to “detrend” the data by running a correlation between polio infections on a year by year basis with consumption of ice cream on a year by year basis, or maybe even a seasonal basis. The correlation should have disappeared,, as it DID disappear when a early relationship when the correlation was checked for CHANGES in yearly atmospheric CO2 vs CHANGES in anthropogenic emissions.
After posting all this, I just thought of a “devil’s advocate” argument in favor of the ice cream hypothesis. Children would only catch polio when exposed to someone else who had contracted the poliovirus. Large groups of kids collected together in ice cream parlors, school classrooms, or any other environment with plenty of children, would likely have helped to spread the virus.

July 24, 2017 1:44 am

Every time I see something like this in the “news,” I think of Dan Aykroyd holding a paper and saying “Cattle mutilations are up.”

Peta from Cumbria, now Newark
July 24, 2017 1:45 am

So, lets have a look at Rice Paddies and consider the Big Picture
(Mother Nature (MN) and possibly God included. More on God at the end)
Rice paddies are NOT natural occurrences.
Eating rice is not a good thing for the human animal to do. But humans, being ‘clever’ learned how to get past 2 protective measures that NM had attached to the seeds of the rice plant – namely the husk and the need for it to be cooked (processed)
Therefore, is it not unreasonable to expect NM to frown upon rice paddies and the creatures that create them?
As NM sees it also, she is doing the paddy creators a big favour, she is trying to stop them eating rice. It is carbohydrate (sugar), makes them unhealthy, lazy, stupid, belligerent (tendency to enter into ‘wars’ and rots their minds, brains & bodies.
win win
So, what would NM do if not try to eliminate them?
It does her a power of good by getting rid of these stinking anaerobic swamps and also the creatures creating them might go off and find something healthier to eat?
NM is a subtle creature and came up with flukes as her chosen method.
Selective and effective.
Neat huh?
What are the ‘symbols’ of God’s son if not the proverbial bread and wine (body and blood)
Second only to Nitric Acid or (maybe) Potassium hydroxide, these are the 2 most corrosive and destructive substances a human body might encounter – yet we humans, so clever as we are, consider them as the essential staples to life.
Somebody’s having a laugh aren’t they?

Reply to  Peta from Cumbria, now Newark
July 24, 2017 9:41 am

Who is NM.
Is that a new god I haven’t heard about yet.
There should be a global ban, a complete removal of all religion for a period of five years, like it never even existed.
That way non believers can get a break.
Folks should start doing things in their own name.
Just saying

Reply to  Peta from Cumbria, now Newark
July 24, 2017 11:23 am

You’re doing bad shit man.. frying your brain.

Reply to  Peta from Cumbria, now Newark
July 24, 2017 11:26 am

Rice paddies mimic the natural wetland environments in which wild rice evolved.

Reply to  Peta from Cumbria, now Newark
July 25, 2017 6:55 am

Why exactly is New Mexico doing all this to rice?

July 24, 2017 2:24 am

whether the paper is right or wrong (and it seems to be not so much science as a series of assumptions that might happen), so what? The conclusion makes the standard false assumption that the climate fifty years ago was a as perfect as it could be.
But where’s the evidence for that?
So we get some more (curable) parasites? But we also get fewer cold deaths, faster growing plants and who knows what else. Everything in life is a trade-off:.

Craig W
July 24, 2017 2:48 am

Just think how life on earth changes when lava spews into the oceans and the tectonic plates shift.
Oh wait, correlation and causation are rewriting liberal sciences … it’s all “climate change” [face-palm].

July 24, 2017 3:33 am

Seems like a mussel Melissa Click could use.

Mike McMillan
July 24, 2017 3:48 am

The sea level rises, then trematodes increase. The world warms up, then CO2 increases. The obvious conclusion here is that trematodes cause sea level rise.

Charles Nelson
July 24, 2017 4:00 am

1743, borrowed (during an outbreak of the disease in Europe), from Italian influenza “influenza, epidemic,” originally “visitation, influence (of the planets),”
Maybe those Medieval Italians were onto something after all?

July 24, 2017 4:06 am

“We found that pulses in sea-level rise occurred on the scale of hundreds of years, and that correlated to rises in parasitic trematodes in the core samples”. Allow me to suggest a common cause – earthquake subsidence. Sea level rise is a global phenomenon, and due to the thermal inertia of the entire globe, is highly unlikely to occur is a series of pulses. Major earthquakes can cause pulses of subsidence, and are well-known to occur in the region.

July 24, 2017 4:16 am


July 24, 2017 4:37 am

This interesting story talks about how we’ve messed up our shorelines and how invasive species could be a good thing because they can support an ecology where one has ceased to exist.
Things aren’t the same as they were 11,000 years ago. The shoreline in heavily populated areas is not the virgin wilderness that it once was. Trying to say that global warming will cause this or that because of evidence from 11,000 years ago ignores that very important fact.

Reply to  commieBob
July 24, 2017 6:17 am

Excellent point. A standard bit of climate hype deception is to assign so-called “climate change” as the sole cause while ignoring land use change completely. Reduction if influences to only CO2 is a deceptive argument. Seeking evidence for a predetermined result us not science. Recall the faux lobster study of a few years ago?

July 24, 2017 5:03 am

comment image
RST = regressive system tract (falling sea level).
TST = transgressive system tract (rising sea level)
MFS = maximum flooding surface (sea level highstand).
The TST is the Holocene Transgression…comment image
The MFS is the Holocene Highstand, the RST is the subsequent fall in sea level during neoglaciation, all of the sea level rise since the 1700-1800’s is the little blip at the right of the graph…comment image
For sea level to return to the Holocene Highstand by the end of this century, it would have to accelerate to a rate faster than the Holocene Transgression…comment image
When this was happening…comment imagecomment image

Janice Moore
Reply to  David Middleton
July 24, 2017 9:07 am

(((APPLAUSE!))) Fine comment, Mr. Middleton!

July 24, 2017 5:04 am

Walking In rice feilds??
A bit more complex than the simple science of skeptics.

Reply to  Steven Mosher
July 24, 2017 6:10 am

It is interesting that you seem to only attack skeptics even if it means ignoring the evidence from your own Crutape letters. How does one convince themselves that the evidence he himself uncovered is not only irrelevant but the fault if those who still believe the evidence?
You seem to confuse skeptical critique, which is in fact demonstrated to be well justified, with a “theory”. And deriding “skeptical science” as something bad sort of misses the traditional idea that science is built on skeptical analysis of data and forcing those pushing hypotheses to defend them. Now you show up with sour implied put downs of any criticism offered.
It is like you have a self imposed Stockhom syndrome.

Geoff Sherrington
Reply to  Steven Mosher
July 24, 2017 6:11 am

Scientific challenges often move through different degrees of complexity. Quite often, the ‘solution’, if there is one, turns out to be somewhat simpler than it had seemed. Science advances this way. It is meaningless to assert that a heterogenous group that you label ‘skeptic’ without definition concentrates its effort in the simplest part of this spectrum, for reasons you do not specify.
You will know from your own career that sometimes you have more money than at other times. You can get paid for research, so that you can examine some of the complexities in this spectrum. The typical skeptic to my knowledge is seldom funded. Consequently, the words of the skeptic often do sound simple by comparison with funded researchers.
But, the desirable essence of the words is more like quality, or relevance to solving the problem. Simplicity is not a prime quality consideration. Who cares if it looks too simple if it helps solve the problem? Geoff

Reply to  Steven Mosher
July 24, 2017 6:28 am

It’s a bit more complex than just walking barefoot in rice fields.
“Penetration of skin by cercariae”… What happens when you walk barefooted in water infested with trematodes (e.g rice paddies).
Eating fish, shellfish or aquatic plants infested trematode larvae can also be vectors.
It still boils down to avoiding walking barefoot in waters or wetlands infested with trematodes and definitely not eating or drinking food or water infested with trematodes.
On the other hand, evidence of trematodes during the Holocene Transgression in one particular location has nothing at all to do with the current state of sea level.

Reply to  David Middleton
July 24, 2017 7:47 am

“We found that pulses in sea-level rise occurred on the scale of hundreds of years”
Of course, these were entirely due to pulses of CO2. (wink)
Is Steven really worried about getting nematodes?

Reply to  Steven Mosher
July 24, 2017 8:30 am

Steve I don’t understand what you’re trying to say with this. The reference you cite lists farmers working in irrigated fields as the principal risk group. “Walking in rice paddies” is an accurate description of the behavior that puts them at risk. Fertilizing with human waste is also part of the cycle.
When I ranched horses we rotated out herd between pastures, moving chickens in behind the horses, who then ate the larval insects in the horse manure, breaking the parasite chain. No, these cycles aren’t all that simple, but the description wasn’t inaccurate.

Reply to  Steven Mosher
July 24, 2017 9:46 am

Try making a pot of soup or stew.
The rewards for your stirring will be far greater.

Reply to  Steven Mosher
July 25, 2017 6:58 am

It really is sad the way Steve has to denigrate and even lie about what others are saying and doing in order to build himself up in his own eyes.

M.W. Plia.
July 24, 2017 5:15 am

“What concerns me is that these rises are going to continue to happen and perhaps at accelerated rates. This poses grave concerns for public health and ecosystem services. These processes could increase parasitism in not only estuarine systems but also in freshwater settings. Such habitats are home to the snail hosts of blood flukes, which infect and kill a million or more people globally each year. What’s scary is it could potentially affect the generations of our kids or grandkids.”
Professor Huntley should know better (and he probably does). Yes, there is good evidence the warmer temperatures prior to the last neoglacial (The Little Ice Age) are returning but that’s as far as it goes. To suggest “accelerated rates” are “scary” and could “affect” future generations is nothing more than irresponsible fear-mongering.
Lindzen is right. These people always infer large climate change from an effect measured in tenths of a degree because they are dependant on funding.

July 24, 2017 6:00 am

The claim regarding slr pulses seems to be random and disconnected from the data. In other words another paper among many that had an answer….dangerous climate change, of course….and then crammed in data to fit.

Curious George
July 24, 2017 6:34 am

Here we go. Flatworms react to global temperature, not to a local temperature. They think globally, just like alarmists.

July 24, 2017 6:36 am

As it has just been proved in another study that having fewer children is the best possible choice a person can make to help mitigate global warming, it seems like the rise of killer parasites is just what the doctor ordered!
This negative feedback should be included in the models.

July 24, 2017 6:57 am

Once again, instead of spending billions of dollars on useless studies like this, we could spend it on education and treatment for these diseases, which are often easily treated.

July 24, 2017 6:58 am

From the paper…

Previous quantitative analysis of a 9.6 ky record of Holocene estuarine deposits of the Pearl River23 demonstrated that trematode prevalence peaked in the lower part of paralic transgressive deposits recording the generalized inundation of the regional coastal system coincident with Meltwater Pulse 1c, that took place between 9.5 and 9.2 ky24. Similarly, significantly higher trematode prevalence was documented in host taxa from sediment-starved northern Adriatic strandline death assemblages, relative to that documented from comparable assemblages from the Po delta shoreline25. These two coastal regimes serve respectively as modern analogues for Holocene transgressive and prograding settings26. This putative link between overall sea-level rise and prevalence, if demonstrated on societally relevant time scales, could serve as an analogue for the response of parasitism to global warming in the coming decades to centuries. Here we explicitly test the link between short term (10^2–10^3 years) flooding pulses and upsurges in parasite prevalence using the fossil record of bivalve hosts from a cored Holocene back-barrier succession (Fig. 1; Po coastal plain, Italy).
The average rate of SLR during the Holocene Transgression was about 11 mm/yr. It rose at 11 mm/yr for more than 10,000 years. During this period several short-term meltwater pulses have been interpreted – decade to century scale rises of >20 mm/yr.comment image
The Invasion of the Flukes was linked to Meltwater Pulse 1c…

Around 9,300 years ago, a glacial dam burst at the southeastern end of Lake Superior, provoking pervasive Northern Hemisphere cooling, followed by a minor meltwater pulse about 9,000 years ago. However, meltwater pulse 1C (8,200-7,600 years ago) left traces at numerous locations in the United States, northwestern Europe, and China. It occurred soon after the 8200 year cold event, which resulted from the final catastrophic drainage of glacial Lakes Agassiz and Ojibway around 8400 years ago. The torrent of around 100,000 cubic kilometers unleashed within a few years or less amounted to barely a meter rise in global sea level, if evenly spread across the world’s oceans (note 1). Yet the stratigraphic record preserves vestiges of this relatively minor pulse.

Holocene Transgression 11 mm/yr, Meltwater Pulse 1c >>20 mm/yr –> Invasion of the Flukes!!!
Modern SLR 1-3 mm/yr… Accelerating from 1.9 mm/yr to 3.9 mm/yr from 1993-2017 on the basis of a downward revision to the 1990’s satellite data. –>comment image

Janice Moore
Reply to  David Middleton
July 24, 2017 9:09 am

And another fine comment!

Janice Moore
Reply to  David Middleton
July 24, 2017 9:12 am

And another! I think, Mr. Middleton, that, in the future, you should take a “no reply” to your comments by us WUWTers to mean: “It goes without saying — this is a fine comment. If we applauded them all, we’d be clogging the thread with atta boys.”

Reply to  David Middleton
July 24, 2017 9:29 am

The original mortal gods. What we don’t know, what we can’t manage, are the prophecies that inform our political/social consensus.
Speaking of… What is the Nyquist Rate for sampling time?
Then there’s the scientist, the caveman. It’s true, with the caveat that “it” is constrained to a thirty-year frame of reference.

July 24, 2017 10:00 am

It’s not April 1st is it?

July 24, 2017 10:42 am

Okay, Chief. It’s the old Platyhelminthes in the estuary trick.

July 24, 2017 11:43 am

Can we blame the Italians that were driving SUVs during the Holocene Epoch (that began 11,700 years ago)?

July 24, 2017 1:48 pm

We need a site called “Headline Hunters” where all these folks can post and get rated. 😉

July 24, 2017 4:41 pm

Little context as to why the sea level rose periodically, by how much, why that caused the rise in parasites, what other mechanisms might have been present and how the infection of clams might relate to human infection in order to justify the conclusion it may be harmful to children and grand children and whether locally or globally.

July 24, 2017 6:32 pm

So we are doomed, after all. That’s a relief. There’s been too much good news lately.

Dario from Turin
July 25, 2017 12:52 am

IMHO (well, not so “honest”, after all, being a geologist…), a location near a big river delta on the coast of Northern Adriatic Sea is not good to measure “sea level rise”… all that coast is experiencing a 1 mm/year mean rate of SUBSIDENCE due to compaction of sediments…

July 25, 2017 6:35 am

Let me see if I have this straight. When their are drastic increases in water flow through estuaries, the stressed water critters that live in those estuaries, have more trouble with parasites.

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