A University of Vermont researcher is among those who has found a malaria parasite infecting white-tailed deer in New England.

She had discovered a malaria parasite, Plasmodium odocoilei–that infects white-tailed deer. It’s the first-ever malaria parasite known to live in a deer species and the only native malaria parasite found in any mammal in North or South America. Though white-tailed deer diseases have been heavily studied–scientist hadn’t noticed that many have malaria parasites. The parasite infects up to twenty-five percent of white-tailed deer along the East Coast of the United States.

(They) are quick to note that they anticipate little danger to people from this newly discovered deer malaria, it does underline the fact that many human health concerns are connected to wider ecological systems–and that understanding the biology of other species is a foundation to both conservation and public health

Here’s the report from EurekAlert, a science-news service.

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