What is a parasite?

A parasite is an organism that lives in another organism, called the host, and often harms it. It is dependent on its host for survival – it has to be in the host to live, grow and multiply. A parasite cannot live independently. Although a parasite rarely kills the host, in some cases it can happen.

We all are subject to parasites!

 You can get parasites in a number of ways:

  1. They can come from the ingestion of undercooked meat, unwashed fruits and vegetables
  2. Through infected water.

You can also get them while travelling, from contact with animals, or through skin absorption.
There are 3 main types of parasitic diseases:

  • Protozoa – this parasite is a single-cell organism. Plasmodium, which causes malaria, is an example. A protozoa can only multiply (divide) within the host.
  • Helminths – worm parasites. Schistosomiasis is caused by a helminth. Other examples include roundworm, pinworm, trichina spiralis, tapeworm and fluke.
  • Arthropods – includes insects and spiders (arachnids). The insect is not the parasite, but it carries it, it is a vector of parasitic diseases.

Here a comprehensive list of parasites that affect humans:

1.Endoparasites – Protozoan organisms

Acanthamoeba – Affects the eye and/or brain. It exists all over the world. People can become infected if they clean contact lenses with tap water.

Babesiosis – Affects the red blood cells. Different species live in various parts of the world. Transmitted by tick bites.

Balantidiasis – Lives in the intestinal mucosa.

Blastocystosis – Affects the intestines. Enters humans through ingested food contaminated with human/animal feces.

Coccidia – Affects the intestines. Exists worldwide. Enters humans through ingested food contaminated with human/animal feces.

Amoebiasis – Affects the intestines. More likely in areas with high population density, poor sanitation, and tropical regions. Fecal oral transmission.

Giardia – Affects the lumen of the small intestine. If humans ingest food/water contaminated with feces, dormant cysts may infect the body.

Isosporiasis – Affects the epithelial cells of the small intestine. Exists all over the world. Fecal oral route.

Leishmaniasis – Affects the skin and/or viscera. Exists worldwide in various forms. Transmitted by types of sandflies.

Primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) – Affects the brain. Insufflation of contaminated soil, swimming pools and contaminated water.

Malaria – Affects the red blood cells. Exists in tropical regions. Transmitted by the anopheles mosquito.

Rhinosporidiosis – Affects the nose and nasopharynx. Exists in India and Sri Lanka. People who are bathing in common ponds can become contaminated when the nasal mucosa is in contact with infected material..

Toxoplasmosis. Parasitic pneumonia – Affects the liver, heart, eyes and brain. Widespread worldwide. People can become infected after ingesting raw/undercooked pork, lamb, goat, milk. Also may exist in contaminated food or soil with cat feces.

Trichomoniasis – Affects the female urogenital tract. Can exist in males, but without symptoms. This is an STI  (sexually transmitted infection).

Sleeping sickness – Affects the central nervous system, blood lymph. Transmitted by the tsetse fly.

Chagas disease – Affects the blood, muscle, nerves, heart, esophagus and colon. Transmitted through an insect bite.

2. Helminths organisms (worms)

Ancylostomiasis/Hookworm – Affects the lungs, small intestine, and blood.

Anisakiasis – The human has an allergic reaction. Human can become infected when eating contaminated fish and seafood.

Roundworm. Parasitic pneumonia – Affects the intestines, lungs, pancreas, liver, appendix (the patient develops Löffler’s syndrome).

Roundworm – Affects the brain, lungs, liver and intestines. Infection comes from contaminated raccon stools. North America (rare).

Tapeworm. Tapeworm infection – Affects the intestine. Today this parasite is rare.

Clonorchiasi – Affects the gall bladder. Humans can become infected after ingesting contaminated ants.

Dioctophyme renalis infection – Usually affects the right kidney. Exists all over the world. Humans can become infected after eating raw or undercooked freshwater fish.

Diphyllobothriasis. Tapeworm – Affects the intestines and blood. Exists in Chile, Peru, Japan, Uganda and Europe. Humans can become infected after eating raw freshwater fish.

Guinea worm. Dracunculiasis – Person gets blisters and ulcers, affects subcutaneous tissues and muscle.

Echinococcosis .Tapeworm – Affects the spleen, kidneys, lungs and liver. Mediterranean region. The human can become infected after eating foods contaminated by the feces of a carnivore, or eating offal from a herbivore.

Pinworm. Enterobiasis – Affects the intestines and anus. This bacteria is more common in temperate regions.

Liver fluke. Fasciolosis – Affects the gall bladder and liver. Common in various parts of the world. Contamination comes from freshwater snails.

Fasciolopsiasis. Intestinal fluke – Affects the intestines. Common in East Asia. When humans ingest infested water plants or water they can become infected.

Gnathostomiasis – Affects people under the skin. It is rare, and occurs in Southeast Asia. Caused by eating freshwater fish, pigs, snails, frogs, and chicken.

Hymenolepiasis – Humans can become infected by ingesting material contaminated by cockroaches, meal worms and flour beetles.

Loa loa filariasis, Calabar swellings – Affects the eyes, lungs and connective tissue. Mainly in West Africa. Transmitted by horsefly bites.

Mansonelliasis. Filariasis – Affects the subcutaneous layer of the skin.

Metagonimiasis. Intestinal fluke – Caused by eating undercooked or salted fish. Found in Siberia, Balkan states, Israel, Spain and Manchuria.

River blindness – Affects the eyes, skin, and tissue. Found in Africa, Central/South America, near fast flowing, cool rivers. Transmitted by a fly.

Chinese Liver Fluke – Affects the bile duct. In Russia 1.5 million people are affected. Caused by eating raw, slightly salted or frozen fish.

Paragonimiasis, Lung Fluke – Affects the lungs and sputum. Causd by eating undercooked or raw freshwater crabs, crayfishes and other crustaceans.

Schistosomiasis, bilharzia, bilharziosis or snail fever – Affects the skin. Caused by exposure to fresh water snail infested waters. Found in South America (eastern), Africa, the Caribbean, and the Middle East.

Intestinal schistosomiasis – Affects the skin, spleen intestine, liver, and lungs. 83 million people are affected. Found in the Middle East, Asia, South America, Africa and the Caribbean. Human skin exposed to water infested with a type of fresh water snail can become infected.

Urinary schistosomiasis – Affects the skin, lungs, ureters, bladder and kidneys. Found in the Middle East and Africa. Humans can become infected if their skin is exposed to water contaminated with a type of snail.

Schistosomiasis by Schistosoma japonicum – Affects the intestine, skin, spleen, and liver. Humans can become infected if their skin is exposed to water contaminated with a type of snail.

Asian intestinal schistosomiasis – Found in Southeast Asia. Humans can become infected if their skin is exposed to water contaminated with a type of snail.

Sparganosis – Humans can become infected if they eat foods tainted with dog or cat feces.

Strongyloidiasis.Parasitic pneumonia – Affects the lungs, skin and intestines. The parasite penetrates through the skin.

Beef tapeworm – Exists all over the world. Affects the intestines. Caused by eating undercooked beef.

Pork tapeworm – Caused by eating undercooked pork.

Toxocariasis –  Affects the eyes, brain and liver. Caused by eating Toxocara egg tainted foods.

Trichinosis – Affects muscle, small intestine and periobital region. Caused by eating undercooked pork.

Swimmer’s itch – Affects the skin. Caused by going into contaminated water.

Whipworm – Affects the large intestine and anus. It is common all over the world. Humans can become infected when ingesting the eggs in dry goods, for example rice, several grains, beans, or soil tainted with human excrements.

Elephantiasis – Caused by mosquito bites.

  1. Ectoparasites

Bedbug – Affects the skin and vision. Found all over the world. Sharing clothing and bedding can spread infection.

Head louse. – Affects the hair follicles. Common all over the world. Spread by head-to-head contact.
Body louse. – Common all over the world. Infection can spread by sexual activity, skin-to-skin contact, and sharing bedding and/or clothing.
Crab louse. – Affects the pubic area and eyelashes. Common all over the world. Infection can spread by sexual activity, skin-to-skin contact, and sharing bedding and/or clothing.
Demodex. – Affects the eyebrow and eyelashes. Common all over the world. Caused by prolonged skin contact.
Scabies – Affects the skin. Infection can spread by sexual activity, skin-to-skin contact, and sharing bedding and/or clothing.
Screwworm. – Affects skin and wounds. Transmitted by a fly.

Symptoms of parasites

Symptoms can range greatly and so it’s important to focus on some of the most crucial ones in order to understand how serious our infection might be.

These 5 are the more serious ones:

– Changes in the appearance or frequency of bowel movements, especially if you have excessive diarrhea or loose stools for two weeks.

– Chronic exhaustion not resolved by a week of restful sleep.

– Sudden and unexplained weight loss of at least 10 pounds (around 5 kilos) over two months.

– Itching around the anus for at least two weeks, especially if there is no rash.

– Cramps and abdominal pain. 

How to get rid of most parasites

 Black walnut hulls: Used by the Indians of America as an anti-parasite, anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal remedy. Its active ingredients are juglone, tannin and iodine. The tincture of the green hulls of the black walnut kills the adult stages of the parasites.

Wormwood: Known for its vermicidal properties and helps those with a weak and under-active digestion. It increases the acidity of the stomach and the production of bile. The wormwood capsules kill the larval stages of the parasites.

Common cloves: Anti-parasitical, anti-fungal, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. It also removes pain. The clove capsules remove the parasite eggs.

All of these can be bought on your own at herbal stores, natural food stores, health stores or online.