They still count in Russian medicine


No ‘yuck’ factor: Leeches are still widely prescribed in Russian medicine, about 10 million of them every year, in many cases as a low-cost substitute for blood thinners such as warfarin. In Russia, a medicinal leech costs less than $1, and a typical application requires three to seven of the ravenous little creatures. Medicinal leeches are raised in leech farms. Leech treatments, available throughout the country, take 30 to 40 minutes, though the resulting wounds ooze blood for an additional six hours or so until the natural anticoagulant in leech venom wears off. Picture shows a worker at the International Medical Leech Centre near Moscow — which produces about three million medicinal leeches per year — demonstrating how quickly the bloodsuckers attach to skin. — JAMES HILL/THE NEW YORK TIMES