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Re: leeches

Ok, you asked for really obscure topics......or someone did....anyway,
hirudin, the active anticlotting agent of leech saliva, is a protein that,
if taken orally, would just get digested.  This would make it safe for the
fish eating a leech, but not for the fish with a leech attached.  Hirudin
is used medically by direct application of the leech, although a new
synthetic form is being developed, that can be administered intravenously
without requiring any actual leeches.  If I had a nice clean source of
leeches (like those raised for medical use) I wouldn't hesitate to feed
them to my fish....as long as I was sure the fish would eat them before
they fed on the fish!

Diane Brown, MD, PhD
Fellow in Pediatric Rheumatology and Immunology
St. Louis Children's Hospital
brown_d at kids_wustl.edu

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