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  Parasitology is the study of the phenomenon of parasitism. Parasites, such as fleas, have been an obvious problem since before history and other, less obvious, parasites have been partially understood since the time of the ancient Greeks and Egyptians. However, scientific study of parasites is a relatively new field. The famous pioneer microscopist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek accurately described the flea and its life cycle in the late 17th century, but one of the largest parasites of humans, the tapeworm, remained virtually unknown until its life cycle was elucidated by Pierre-Joseph van Beneden in the 19th century. Modern parasitology ties together a wide range of disciplines from biochemistry to ecology and from anthropology to genetics, and is an important source of evidence for evolution. RB

See also aetiology; bacteriology; helminthology; immunology; protozoology; virology.Further reading Philip Whitfield, The Biology of Parasitism.



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