Medicinal leech sucking blood from skin

Medicinal leech sucking blood from skin

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Credit: MARTIN DOHRN/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Leech. Close-up photograph of a medicinal leech, Hirudo medicinalis officinalis, beginning to feed by sucking blood from human skin. The leech cuts through the skin using three jaw-plates like a circular saw. Its saliva contains hirudin which prevents blood from clotting. It drinks 10-15 millilitres (ml) of blood and drops off; a further 20-50 ml drips from the wound after the feeding. Leeches were once used to treat illnesses attributed to an excess of blood. In modern medicine they are used for dissolving or draining accumulated blood (haematomas) and for drawing blood into transplanted tissue until circulation is established. Magnification: x0.6 at 35mm size.

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Keywords: animal, blood sucker, haematoma, hirudinea, hirudo medicinalis officinalis, invertebrate, invertebrates, leech, leech treatment, medicinal, nature, wildlife, zoology

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