Paratenic host

'In parasitology, the term paratenic describes a host that is not necessary for the development of a particular species of parasite, but nonetheless may happen to serve to maintain the life cycle of that parasite' until they are transferred to an obligatory host.

(from Wikipedia and Parasitology: A Conceptual Approach book)

Reservoir host

Reservoir hosts are such animals which accumulate in themselves the invasive larvae of the helminthes and contribute to their transfer to the definitive host, not being however an obligatory condition for the complition of parasite ontogenesis.

(from Proceedings of the First International Congress of Parasitology: Roma, 21-26 September 1964)

The source however says that Reservoir host is same as paratenic host which contradicts other sources (like General Parasitology by Cheng) which says:

Reservoir host is an animal that becomes infected and serve as a source from which other animals can be infected. (the only difference I presume is that it may or may not be obligatory)

In many other books (book 1 & 2) a parallel definition is mentioned that a reservoir host is a host that harbors parasite until their transmission to human beings.

This inturn brings forth another question, is a reservoir host a biological vector then?

So the question : Are paratenic host and reservoir host same or different?

P.S. I don't know what the standard books on parasitology are which could have solved this issue. Reference to one such book will be really appreciated.


1 Answer 1


Reservoir host: The host of an infection in which the infectious agent multiplies and/or develops and on which the agent is dependent for survival in nature; essential host for maintenance of the infection when active transmission is not occurring.

Paratenic host: A host in which a parasite survives without undergoing any additional development (a transport host only) Source: Diagnostic medical parasitology, pg 1161


Any animal that harbors an infection that can be transmitted to humans is called a reservoir host, even if the animal is a normal host of the parasite. Source: Pg no:4

So, we can conclude that paratenic host is different from reservoir host due to following differences:

  • Paratenic host don't harbour infective stages , if they harbour them, then they would be called as reservoir host but not paratenic host( see second definition)

  • No development takes place in paratenic hosts, whereas in reservoir host development and multiplication takes place( see 1st definition).

Is a reservoir host a biological vector then?

I too asked the same question, its answer is here.


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