intermediate host


Definition of intermediate host

1 : a host which is normally used by a parasite in the course of its life cycle and in which it may multiply asexually but not sexually — compare definitive host

Examples of intermediate host in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web That animal probably transmitted the virus to an intermediate host, like a mink, pangolin, civet or racoon dog, which then passed the virus to a human. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, "WHO Releases Results of First Investigation Into the Origin of Covid-19," 6 Apr. 2021 The report recommends a host of further studies, in particular, sampling for the virus in wildlife and in farmed animals to find a possible intermediate host. Kai Kupferschmidt, Science | AAAS, "‘Compromise’ WHO report resolves little on pandemic’s origins, but details probe’s next steps," 30 Mar. 2021 Although genome sequencing suggests that the virus originated in horseshoe bats, it is now widely believed that the virus passed to humans through an unknown intermediate host animal. Dave Hurteau, Field & Stream, "Studies Show Whitetail Deer Can Get and Spread COVID-19," 22 Mar. 2021 Most of these viruses were transferred from bats to an intermediate host, like a palm civet or camel, before making their way to humans. New York Times, "Thai Caves Attract Millions of Bats — and Now Scientists Too," 17 Jan. 2021 In the second phase, international experts will work with Chinese colleagues to find the virus among animal hosts and a possible intermediate host. New York Times, "In Hunt for Virus Source, W.H.O. Let China Take Charge," 4 Nov. 2020 Scientists suspect the bat virus mutated to become able to infect an intermediate host, such as a civet or pangolin, before mutating again to become able to infect humans, in a process called spillover. Robert Lee Hotz, WSJ, "‘Really Diabolical’: Inside the Coronavirus That Outsmarted Science," 7 Sep. 2020 Sometime in late 2019, the wrong virus left a bat and ended up, perhaps via an intermediate host, in a human—and another, and another. Ed Yong, The Atlantic, "How the Pandemic Defeated America," 3 Aug. 2020 Other diseases, like malaria and Dengue fever, involve an intermediate host for spread, so a model that focuses on direct person-to-person interactions won't be sufficient. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Understanding epidemiology models," 1 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'intermediate host.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of intermediate host

1878, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for intermediate host

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The first known use of intermediate host was in 1878

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Last Updated

17 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Intermediate host.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for intermediate host

intermediate host


Medical Definition of intermediate host

1 : a host which is normally used by a parasite in the course of its life cycle and in which it may multiply asexually but not sexually — compare definitive host

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