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The Enigma of Fever

Worms, insects, lizards: they all can develop a fever

Most of us, especially those with children, know how alarming and worrying elevated body temperature, in other words fever, can be. We use a thermometer to find out whether a child is feverish, but traditionally Trobriand Islanders used head lice which they’d put on the heads of their children. These ectoparasites do not like high temperatures and therefore their disappearance from the heads of a child would indicate to the parent that the child has developed a fever and something is wrong with the child’s health; after all a healthy child entertains head lice. Fever is probably the oldest and best known manifestation of an infection and ill health, but its function is still debated and it is not generally accepted whether it’s a harmful or trivial, temporary side effect, or whether it is actually beneficial. —>