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Mechanical transmission by leeches, please don't ignore
Jan 16, 2013

Dear Dr. Lisa,

I found this study (seems from a reputable institution) which claims that leeches can store blood-borne viruses such as Hepatitis B or HIV in their gut for months. So if they bite another person and regurgitate the blood (due to application of salt/heat to remove them) can infection occur through mechanical transmission ?.

Can such viruses survive in the leech ?

What are your views on this issue please ?

I believe clarifying it would be of great benefit to many !

This is the study link: http://link.springer.com/content/pdf/10.1007%2FBF02351867

Response from Dr. Hightow-Weidman

Hello Yes, my opinion is that viruses likely could survive in leeches and would not advice anyone to use them for medicinal purposes unless it is known with certainty to come from controlled breeding and have definitely not been in contact with human or animal pathogens. I am certainly not an expert in this field and if you require more information I would suggest contacting the authors of the study. Take care,

LHW



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