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Starving a Fever May Really Be an Effective Cure: Eating Well Helps Infection Spread Faster in Water Fleas

Update Date: Feb 26, 2013 03:03 PM EST

Starving a fever really may be an effective cure, according to a new study that revealed plentiful food appeared to accelerate the spread of infections.

The new study looked at bacterial infections in water fleas and found that increasing their supply of food can speed up the spread of infection.

Scientists at the University of Edinburgh found that when parasite-infected water fleas were well fed, some fleas became highly contagious compared to when food was scarce.

Researchers said that the findings, published in the journal Biology Letters, suggest that under certain conditions, some individuals are more likely to spread disease compared to others.

Researchers said that the finding could help researchers monitor and control the spread of infections like epidemics in large populations.

"If we have an idea of which individuals transmit a lot of disease, we will be better able to stop its spread," researcher Dr. Pedro Vale of the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Edinburgh said in a statement.

Researchers explained that some of the well-fed water fleas were more infectious than other because they were able to survive for longer with the parasite, which gave it more time to multiply.

After looking at the effects of food quantity on the spread of a bacteria parasite that grows in the water flea gut and releases infectious spores when the water flea dies, researcher found that among the well-fed water fleas, some were carrying more parasites than others and were thus more prone to spreading the disease.

"We know that contact between individuals is important; but now we know that, for some animals at least, nutrition may also play an important role in the spread of disease," Vale explained.

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