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'Cool' Parasite Named After Obama

  • VOA News

As President Barack Obama nears the end of his last term in office, yet another accolade has been bestowed upon him.

A study in the Journal of Parasitology reveals that scientists have named a parasite after the president.

The blood fluke Baracktrema obamai, which represents both a new genus and species of parasitic flatworm. (Credit: Jackson R. Roberts, Thomas R. Platt, Stephen A. Bullard/Journal of Parasitology, 2016)

The blood fluke Baracktrema obamai, which represents both a new genus and species of parasitic flatworm. (Credit: Jackson R. Roberts, Thomas R. Platt, Stephen A. Bullard/Journal of Parasitology, 2016)

Baracktrema obamai is described as a two-inch-long, hair-thin, parasitic flatworm that lives in turtles' blood.

Thomas Platt, the newly retired biology professor at Saint Mary's College in Indiana who chose the name, said it's an honor, not an insult.

Platt, who discovered and named the flatworm to crown his career before retiring, has discoveries of 32 species to his credit. He's named them after his father-in-law, his doctoral adviser "and other people I have a great deal of respect for.

This is clearly something in my small way done to honor our president,'' Platt told the Associated Press.

Parasites get a bad rap, but Platt said this one reminded him of the president: "It's long. It's thin. And it's cool as hell.''

Platt said Baracktrema obamai is a "phenomenally, incredibly resilient" organism.

The worm is related, distantly, to a parasite that can cause a devastating disease in humans, but it causes no harm to the host turtles.

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