February 2, 2010
February 2 - Eimeria monacis
Because today is Groundhog Day, it seemed only fitting to highlight a parasite of Marmota monax, the groundhog or woodchuck. Eimeria monacis is a coccidial parasite – a group of parasites that are thought to be very host specific. Eimeria is an apicomplexan, like Toxoplasma, Plasmodium, and Cryptosproridium. Their life cycle contains many of the same stages and processes, but unlike vector-borne apicomplexans like malaria, Eimeria and other coccidians only use one host and are transmitted from host to host via oral-fecal pathways. (You can see a nice animation of the life cycle here, albeit in a goat, not a groundhog.) The picture is from Frederick Fish's original 1930 description of E. monacis. Fish was a parastiologist from Johns Hopkins University, who caught the type host outside of Washington D.C.