Viruses of parasites as actors in the parasite-host relationship: a "ménage à trois"

Amaranta Gómez-Arreaza, Anne-Lise Haenni, Irene Dunia, Luisana Avilán

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The complex parasite-host relationship involves multiple mechanisms. Moreover, parasites infected by viruses modify this relationship adding more complexity to the system that now comprises three partners. Viruses infecting parasites were described several decades ago. However, until recently little was known about the viruses involved and their impact on the resulting disease caused to the hosts. To clarify this situation, we have concentrated on parasitic diseases caused to humans and on how virus-infected parasites could alter the symptoms inflicted on the human host. It is clear that the effect caused to the human host depends on the virus and on the parasite it has infected. Consequently, the review is divided as follows:

Viruses with a possible effect on the virulence of the parasite. This section reviews pertinent articles showing that infection of parasites by viruses might increase the detrimental effect of the tandem virus-parasite on the human host (hypervirulence) or decrease virulence of the parasite (hypovirulence). 

Parasites as vectors affecting the transmission of viruses. In some cases, the virus-infected parasite might facilitate the transfer of the virus to the human host. 

Parasites harboring viruses with unidentified effects on their host. In spite of recently renewed interest in parasites in connection with their viruses, there still remains a number of cases in which the effect of the virus of a given parasite on the human host remains ambiguous.

The triangular relationship between the virus, the parasite and the host, and the modulation of the pathogenicity and virulence of the parasites by viruses should be taken into account in the rationale of fighting against parasites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)126-132
Number of pages7
JournalActa Tropica
Early online date19 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017


  • Animals
  • Host-Parasite Interactions
  • Humans
  • Parasites/virology
  • Parasitic Diseases/virology
  • Virulence
  • Virus Diseases/parasitology
  • Viruses


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