History of Parasitology


Traditionally parasitology has been concerned with the harmful effects of organisms living and feeding inside or on another living organism. Although parasites may belong to any of the following groups – bacteria, yeast, fungi, algae, viruses, protozoa, helminths and arthropods – in effect parasitologists have focused on the internal zooparasites. Bacteria, viruses and fungi of plant origin are the provenance of microbiologists. Before the discovery of unicellular parasites c. 1880s onwards, worms or helminths were the major focus of attention.

Keywords: protozoa; helminths; spontaneous generation; host; tropical medicine

Further Reading

Cox FEG (ed.) (1996) Illustrated History of Tropical Diseases. London: The Wellcome Trust..

Farley J (1977) The Spontaneous Generation Controversy from Descartes to Oparin. Baltimore, MA: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Farley J (1992) Parasites and the germ theory of disease. In: Rosenberg CE and Golden J (eds) Framing Disease; Studies in Cultural History, pp. 33–49. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutger University Press

Foster WD (1965) A History of Parasitology. Edinburgh: E & S Livingstone.

Grove DI (1990) A History of Human Helminthology. Oxon: CAB International.

Kean BH, Mott KE and Russell AJ (eds) (1978) Tropical Medicine and Parasitology: Classic Investigations. Ithaca: Cornell University Press..

Power HJ (1999) Tropical Medicine in the Twentieth Century: A History of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine 1898–1990. London: Kegan Paul.

Scott HH (1939) A History of Tropical Medicine. London: Edward Arnold.

Worboys M (1983) The origins and early history of parasitology. In: Warren KS and Bowers JZ (eds) Parasitology: a Global Perspective, pp. 1–18. New York: Springer Verlag

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Power, Helen J(Apr 2001) History of Parasitology. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0003074]