I know this seems a little premature, while we’re still very much enjoying the fruits of our current pandemic, but it pays to look ahead, and so I took a quick wander down Imaginary Boulevard and soon discovered a terrible ticking time-bomb awaiting planet earth. Especially the stripy members of it.
Crazy name, crazy creature.
And a scary life cycle – get this:
During the infective stage of the S. vulgaris life cycle, the larvae that have matured in the intestinal tract will migrate into the surrounding blood vessels. Once in the blood vessels, the larvae will continue their migration throughout the body to various organs causing damage to the blood vessels along the way. This can cause anemia or blockage of blood flow caused by the detachment of blood clots from the vessel wall resulting in tissue death. S. vulgaris are commonly where faeces are present. Harsh environments, such as freezing, do not kill S. vulgaris.
Sounds awful (and it is), but you don’t need to be afraid. It won’t infect you. You’re a human.
It will infect horses, mules, asses (no comment), zebras and quaggas, though. And, in case you hadn’t realised from the description above. IT WILL KILL THEM DEAD.
Fortunately, there is a cure: Horse Paste. This isn’t a paste made from horses, in much the same way that Baby Oil isn’t extracted from actual babies, right. (This is right, right?) (I’m suddenly second guessing myself a bit here…)
Horse Paste is a paste for horses (and mules, asses (no comment), zebras and quaggas). And it contains a chemical which is a member of the macrocyclic lactone class of endectocides and which has a unique mode of action. Compounds of the class bind selectively and with high affinity to glutamate-gated chloride ion channels which occur in invertebrate nerve and muscle cells. This leads to an increase in the permeability of the cell membrane to chloride ions with hyperpolarization of the nerve or muscle cell, resulting in paralysis and death of the parasite. Compounds of this class may also interact with other ligand-gated chloride channels, such as those gated by the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid.
I didn’t write the bit above but tl;dr Horse Paste KILLS Strongylus vulgaris DEAD.
It’s just that, for some weird reason, right now, there seems to be a global shortage of Horse Paste.
And that’s bad news for our Zebras.
Look how completely fucked off with humans this one appears (it is rather hidden by his face stripes, but an expert could tell you that deep down he’s properly irritated). And who can blame him? Sure, he’s healthy right now because the local stockpile hasn’t quite run dry yet. But he’s about to be eaten from the inside out because some people are just completely thick and they’ve used up all the Horse Paste.
And now imagine if you were a Quagga. Pushed to extinction by humans once already, and now, despite the best efforts of The Quagga Project trying to right wrongs:
The Project is aimed at rectifying a tragic mistake made over a hundred years ago through greed and short sightedness.
…about to be wiped out again – this time through stupidity and short sightedness. And a lack of Horse Paste. I think that as a quagga, you’d have every reason to be thoroughly pissed off at mankind. Extinction once could possibly be seen as a bit of an oopsie. Twice seems almost like targeted abuse.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. There is, of course, one big winner here: Strongylus vulgaris. And while some idiots might think they are taking Horse Paste to protect themselves from Covid (it won’t) and to show that they are sticking their middle finger up to The Establishment (ooh, you rebel, you!), they’ve actually just been fooled into being witless shills for Big Parasite.
And it’s our zebras that must bear the brunt.
Next week, we tackle the thorny subject of whether Rhino Paste cures HIV.