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Medical leech

Medical leech (Latin Hirudo medicinalis) is a type of annelidated worms from a subclass of leeches (Hirudinea), most commonly used in Europe and Russia for medical purposes (other types of leeches are more often used in America, Asia and Africa). A parasite that feeds on the blood of man and animals, whose useful properties are known to people since ancient times. In the wild, a medical leech is found almost everywhere in Europe, although its numbers in many regions have been reduced many times due to industrial catches in the past, drainage of swamps and water pollution

The medical leech has a rounded, flattened abdominal body with two suckers at the posterior and anterior ends; in the center of the anterior sucker is a mouth opening. The animal lies in wait for the victim, being in the water, attaching to underwater plants or driftwood. For one feeding, a hungry leech weighing 1.5-2 g can suck up to 15 ml of blood at a time, increasing at the same time by 7-9 times by mass.

Sucked up blood is stored in the stomach in the liquid state for months, without curtailing, and live from feeding to feeding leech can up to two years. Digest the absorbed blood and store it in a liquid form leech helps the bacteria located in its intestines-symbionts Aeromonas hydrophila. They also help her cope with foreign bacteria that can enter the stomach along with the blood of a sick animal.

In the Russian medicine, leeches are used in the living form in the treatment of many diseases: varicose, hemorrhoids, wounds, trophic ulcers, etc., in Europe and the USA - mainly in micro- and plastic surgery for removal of venous congestion in transplanted tissues. Medicinal leech extracts and preparations based on them, salivary glands of medicinal leech are also used. In recent years, recombinant preparations of leech proteins (hirudin, girudostazin, bdelastazine, etc.) have been created and even attempts have been made to construct an artificial leech


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