Scientists studying a parasite that infects turtles have named a blood fluke after the 44th President of the United States.

A newly-discovered species of parasitic flatworm which develops inside the lungs of Malaysian turtles has earned the name Baracktrema Obamai, according to a study published in the August edition of The Journal of Parasitology.

Baracktrema obamai n. gen., n. sp. infects the lung of geoemydid turtles (black marsh turtle, Siebenrockiella crassicollis [type host] and southeast Asian box turtle, Cuora amboinensis) in the Malaysian states of Perak, Perlis, and Selangor,” an introduction to the American Society of Parasitologists’ discovery states.

The Journal explains the blood fluke is a “new genus and species… named in honor of Barack Obama, 44th president of the United States of America, and 5th cousin, twice removed” of one of the scientists who participated in the study.

“The scientists found clusters of tens to hundreds of fluke eggs in the turtles’ lung alveoli, the tiny sacs where blood receives oxygen and gets rid of carbon dioxide,” reports Popular Science. “How these eggs get outside to hatch and infect new hosts isn’t clear, although making the turtles cough is probably involved.”


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