What Kind Of Parasites Do Humans Get?

By Antonia Čirjak on June 3 2020 in Science

Trophozite, infectious form of the parasite Naegleria fowleri.
Trophozite, infectious form of the parasite Naegleria fowleri.
  • Parasites are organisms that use the body of the host to feed and reproduce, coexisting with them and hurting them in the process.
  • Some of the most common parasites that infect humans are hookworms, scabies mites, tapeworms, and roundworms.
  • Parasite infection is usually treated with medication and in most cases, the host will successfully recover.

You would be surprised and horrified to learn that many parasitic organisms can invade the human body and cause it harm. Evolutionary ecology teaches us that parasites are organisms that live inside a host (uninvited of course), usually smaller than the host, causing it to harm and even alter the host's behavior. They feed upon the host for necessary resources to survive and can cause diseases because they interact with other species.

If you ever had the chance to watch any of the films from the Alien franchise, the mention of the word "parasite" or "host" might send shivers down your spine. However, that was the work of science-fiction, and although parasites do not burst out of your chest in real life, they can harm the human body.

Hey There Little Buddy, Are You Hungry?

Hookworms are one of the most common parasites that can invade the human body. They are usually transmitted via contaminated water, vegetables and feces. They are more common in places that have poor access to water and hygiene, and they cause a macroparasitic disease called helminthiases. Inside our bodies, they attach themselves to the intestinal wall where they molt into adult worms over a period of 5 to 9 weeks. Inside, they drink the host's blood and cause symptoms like nausea, anemia, and abdominal pain. 

The seven-year itch or the scabies mite is a parasite that causes itching, skin irritation and soreness and is usually transmitted via physical contact. This parasite lays her eggs on the skin of a host and when the parasite attempts to bury the eggs under the skin, that is when your skin starts burning with intense itches. 

The seven-year itch or the scabies mite is a parasite that causes itching, skin irritation and soreness and is usually transmitted via physical contact.
The seven-year itch or the scabies mite is a parasite that causes itching, skin irritation and soreness and is usually transmitted via physical contact.

Tapeworm is another common parasite that usually finds its way to the host through contaminated or undercooked food and water. They reside in the intestinal wall and produce eggs, which upon maturing can move to other parts of the human body. This parasite resembles a long ribbon and can live inside its host for up to 30 years.

Roundworm also infests the digestive tract, and they seldomly cause any major symptoms. They are also one of the largest intestinal parasites that can live in humans (up to 35 centimeters). Through the intestines, they enter the bloodstream and can make their way to the lungs causing mild symptoms of cough and vomiting.

How Do You Get Rid Of The Parasite?

It is not easy to know when there is a parasite in your body because the symptoms do not have the same intensity for every person. For some infection, it may take even months to notice the symptoms and that is why diagnosis can at times be difficult. The most common symptoms include a change in appetite, weakness, diarrhea, nausea, and such.

Usually, the treatment for parasitic infection is a medication that will help kill the little rascals and flush them out of the host's system. It all depends on the type of infection and the type of parasite that is in the body. In case of other health conditions and/or a troublesome immune system, it may take a longer time for the organism to recover, but most of the time, people recover over the course of few weeks or a month.

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