PBS: How a Worm Gave the South a Bad Name

Discussion in 'Other health news and research' started by forestglip, Jun 10, 2024.

  1. forestglip

    forestglip Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    How a Worm Gave the South a Bad Name
    By Rachel Nuwer
    April 27, 2016

    "For more than three centuries, a plague of unshakable lethargy blanketed the American South.

    It began with “ground itch,” a prickly tingling in the tender webs between the toes, which was soon followed by a dry cough. Weeks later, victims succumbed to an insatiable exhaustion and an impenetrable haziness of the mind that some called stupidity. Adults neglected their fields and children grew pale and listless. Victims developed grossly distended bellies and “angel wings”—emaciated shoulder blades accentuated by hunching. All gazed out dully from sunken sockets with a telltale “fish-eye” stare.

    The culprit behind “the germ of laziness,” as the South’s affliction was sometimes called, was Necator americanus —the American murderer. Better known today as the hookworm, millions of those bloodsucking parasites lived, fed, multiplied, and died within the guts of up to 40% of populations stretching from southeastern Texas to West Virginia. Hookworms stymied development throughout the region and bred stereotypes about lazy, moronic Southerners.

    While the South eventually rid itself of hookworms, those parasites cost the region decades of development and bred widespread misconception about the people who lived there. Yet hookworm has not been defeated for good. Today, hundreds of millions of people in dozens of nations around the world suffer from hookworm infection. The South’s experience, measured in both its successes and pitfalls, can provide a rough blueprint of how to seek out and quash this “American murderer”—no matter where it is found around the world."
  2. Hutan

    Hutan Moderator Staff Member

    Aotearoa New Zealand
    alktipping, shak8, Wyva and 3 others like this.
  3. rvallee

    rvallee Senior Member (Voting Rights)

    Uh. Have they considered calling them mild and endemic, insisting that parasites don't cause illnesses like that?

    It doesn't work but it's still the preferred cover up method.
    Uh, I guess they did try that.
    Haha. Good one. I mean, sure, no one wants that, they just call it... laziness. Technology changes what humans can do, but humans don't change.

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