- The Washington Times - Friday, September 9, 2016

A scientist was spent years studying turtle viruses has named a parasitic worm that infects the creature after President Obama.

Thomas R. Platt recently retired from St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana, but not before cementing Baracktrema obamai into scientific lexicon. He says Mr. Obama should take it as a compliment to be associated with the flatworm, or “blood fluke,” that infects the lungs of black marsh turtles and southeast Asian box turtles in Malaysia.

“It is a unique component of the diversity of life on this planet,” Mr. Platt said, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday. “Anyone should consider it an honor.”

Mr. Platt told the newspaper that he has named many parasites after friends. He chose Mr. Obama because the president is his fifth cousin, twice removed. The scientist said they are both related to a man named George Frederick Toot, who lived in Middletown, Pa., from 1759 to 1815.

The scientist’s study on B. obamai appears in Journal of Parasitology and is co-authored by Jackson Roberts, Raphael Orélis-Ribeiro and Stephen “Ash” Bullard of Auburn University’s Aquatic Parasitology Laboratory in Alabama.

This is the second parasitic worm to be named after the president, the newspaper reported. Researchers from the University of New Mexico, Oklahoma State University and the University of Hamburg in Germany named Paragordius obamai, a Kenyan hairworm that infects crickets, in 2012.


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