"Most individuals would be truly amazed if they knew the extraordinarily high number of Americans who are unknowingly infected by parasites."
"Other prominent physicians agree with me; that in human history, the parasite challenge is likely the most unrecognized of all endemic problems. Because they cannot be seen and rarely present immediate symptoms, they remain invisible as a cause or contributing factor to what can be a serious disorder."
PARASITE PICTURE GALLERY ---
The approximate sizes of microbes can be approximated by using the following rule of thumb:
Food and water are the most common sources of parasite and invading organism transmission. Since most of us eat three times a day and drink water frequently throughout the day, our exposure to these sources is constant. Tap water has been found to be contaminated with harmful organisms. Both plant and animal foods carry parasites, and cleaning and cooking methods often do not often destroy them before ingestion. The CDC (Center for Disease Control) cites food as the catalyst behind 80 percent of the pathogenic outbreaks in the U.S. Most are linked to restaurants and delis where less than sanitary conditions exist -- from food preparation and storage to the utensils and servers' hands.
Animals, just like humans, can become infected with parasites and unhealthy organisms. Internally, contaminated water and food can spread the problem to our pets. Externally, animals become infected by organisms on their bodies, especially on their fur, because of exposure to infected animal wastes. Forgetting to wash your hands even one time after handling or cleaning up after your animal can transmit the parasite to you. Pets are a wonderful part of our lives. They provide comfort, companionship, protection, amusement, and unconditional love for their owners. Yet, pets, like humans, are often victims of serious infections that can unintentionally be passed on to their owners. In fact, there is a whole set of diseases classified as 'zoonoses' (animal-transmitted diseases) in parasitology textbooks. Animals are major carriers of harmful organisms, and most physicians, let alone the general public, are seemingly unaware of this fact. Experts have projected that of the 110 million pet dogs and cats in this country, over half may be infected with at least one or more different kinds of harmful organisms. Considering these numbers, the potential for transmission of parasitical invading organism infection from animals to humans is extremely high. Making a parasite cleanse an essential part of an effective health maintenance program for both people and animals alike.
The CDC estimates that the number of parasites present in the United States alone number in the thousands. These harmful organisms are biochemically complex creatures in their life histories, development, reproductive cycles, nutritional requirements, and manifestation. They are categorized according to structure, shape, function, and reproductive ability. These include microscopic organisms (protozoa); roundworms, pinworms, whipworms, and hookworms (nematoda); tapeworms (cestoda); and flukes (trematoda).
Making up approximately 70 percent of all invading organisms, protozoa are invisible to the naked eye. They are one-celled microscopic organisms, but don't let their size fool you. Certain protoans, through their intensely rapid reproductive ability, can take over the intestinal tract of their host; and from there go on to other organs and tissues. Some feed on red blood cells. Some protozoa produce cysts - closed sacs in which they may be safely transported through food and water from one person to another. In the cyst state, protozoans are safe from destruction by human digestive juices. These one-celled 'vampires' can actually destroy the tissues of their hosts. According to experts, an estimated 7 million people across the U.S. have some form of protozoa living inside of them. Common protozoa include: Endolimax nana, Giardia lamblia, Entamoeba histolytica, Cryptosporidum parvum, Blastocystis hominis, Trichomonas vaginalis, Toxoplasma gondii, Cyclospora cayetanensis, Cryptosporidium muris, Pneumocystis carinii, Plasmodium malariae, Plasmodium ovale, Plasmodium vivax, Plasmodium falciparum, Leishmania donovani, Leishmania tropica, and Leishmania braziliensis.
While the protozoans are only single-celled, nematode creatures are multi cellular. The adult worms multiply by producing eggs called ova or larvae. The eggs usually become infectious in soil or in an intermediate host before humans are infected. It is interesting to note that unless the worm infection is heavy, many individuals do not show signs of infestation. While it may be unpleasant to consider, it is true that the human host can coexist quite comfortably with a few worms, unless they reproduce in great numbers and create organ obstruction. Experts claim that 'some type of worm is already in the intestines of over 75 percent of the world's population'. This is a frightening statement. Common nematode include: Roundworm (Ascaris lumbricoides), Hookworm (Necator Americanus, Ancylostoma duodenal), Pinworm (Enterobius vermicularis), Roundworm (Toxocara canis, Toxocara cati), Heart worm (Dirofilaria immitis), Strongyloides (Stronglyoides stercoralis), Trichinella (Trichinella spiralis), Filaria (Wuchereria bancrofti, Brugia malayi, Onchocerca volvulus, Loa loa, Mansonella streptocerca, Mansonella perstans, Mansonella ozzardi), and Anisakine larvae.
Among the oldest known parasites, tapeworms are considered humanity's largest intestinal inhabitant. They each have a scolex (head) that attaches to the intestinal wall. As long as the head remains attached to the intestinal mucosa, a new worm can grow from it. Tapeworms do not contain digestive tracts but get their nourishment by absorbing partially digested substances from the host. They are whitish in color, flat, and ribbon-like, with a covering that is a transparent skin-like layer. Common cestoda include: Beef tapeworm (Taenia saginata), Pork tapeworm (Taenia solium), Fish tapeworm (Diphyllobothrium latum), and Dog tapeworm (Dipylidium caninum).
Trematode are leaf-shaped flatworms also known as flukes. They are parasitic during nearly all of their life-cycle forms. The cycle begins when larvae are released into freshwater by infected snails. The free-swimming larvae can then directly penetrate the skin of the human host or are ingested after encysting in or on various edible, vegetation, fish, or crustaceans. Common trematode include: Intestinal fluke (Fasciolopsis buski), Blood fluke (Schistosoma japonicum, Schistosoma mansoni) Schistosoma haematobium), Liver fluke (Clonorchis sinensis), Oriental lung fluke (Paragonimus westermani), and Sheep liver fluke (Fasciola hepatica).
Pinworm Parasites (Enterobius vermmicularis)
The most common of all the worms in the United States, the pinworm is most prevalent in children. Transmission occurs through contaminated food, water, and hust dust - as well as human-to-human contact. The adult female pinworm moves outside the anus to lay eggs. Children can easily transmit the worms to the entire family through the bathtub, toilet seat, and bedclothes. Perianal itching is the most classic pinworm symptom. But these little quarter-inch mobile worms that resemble threads have been connected to an enormous range of neurological and behavioral symptoms. In a ten-year study of over 2000 cases of children with pinworms, it was documented seemingly unrelated symptoms which had previously not been associated with this parasitic infection.
Roundworm Parasites (Ascaris lumbricoides)
Another most common intestinal parasite in the world is the large roundworm known as Ascaris lumbricoides. Approximately 1 billion people are infected with ascaris. The worm resembles the common earthworm in appearance and is spread directly to humans from soil or contaminated food. Once the worms develop in the human system, they can pass through the liver and lungs, where they create severe tissue irritation and allergic reactions. Adult worms can travel through the body and end up almost anywhere, including the liver, heart and lungs. They can also create intestinal obstruction when present in large enough numbers. Symptoms can include nervousness, colic, poor appetite, fatigue, allergic reactions, coughing, wheezing, and a number of other reactions. Food cravings and malnutrition in children is characteristic of heavy ascaris infections because the worms compete with the human host for food. Ascaris inhibits absorption of proteins, carbohydrates, and fat-soluable vitamins.
Hookworm Parasites (Necator americanus, Ancylostoma duodenal)
Hookworm larvae are found in warm, moist soil. They can enter the body by directly penetrating the skin. Hookworms travel through the bloodstream to the lungs, into the alveoli, and up the trachea to the throat - where they are swallowed and end up in their desired habitat, the small intestines. When the larvae pass through the lungs, bronchitis may sometimes develop. The teeth-like hooks of the larvae attach to the intestinal mucosa and rob the body of large amounts of blood. Found worldwide, hookworms are very prevelant in a wide variety of geographical locations and toplogies. Common symptoms may include itchiness, nausea, dizziness, pneumonitis, anorexia, weight-loss, weight-gain, and anemia. A single worms can live up to 15 years in the human body.
Trichinella Parasites (Trichinella spiralis)
Just about any symptom known to man can be caused by the various stages of trichinosis infection, which can masquerade as at least fifty more familiar diseases ranging from flu to generalized and specific aches and pains. Most roundworms are transmitted through contaminated soils, but the small spiral-shaped trichinella found in pork is the exception. These tiny roundworms can become enclosed in a cyst inside the muscles of pigs. If pork is eaten and not thoroughly cooked, the cysts are dissolved by the human host's digestive juices, and the worms mature and travel to the muscles, where they become encased. Eventually the worms can burrow throughout the entire body.
Beef Tapeworm Parasites (Taenia saginata)
Beef tapeworm can be ingested from raw or undercooked beef (rare or medium rare). Despite its size, several feet long, the beef tapeworm does not produce severe symptoms in its human host - but still performs a negative function in the body. It is composed of 1000 to 2000 segment strands, known as proglottid, which contains both male and female reproductive organs. Tapeworms thrive on the diet of the host for their carbohydrates, but utilize the tissues of the host for proteins. Beef tapeworms have a life span in the intestine of twenty to twenty-five years. Symptoms such as diarrhea, abdmoninal cramping, nervousness, nausea, loss of appetite, and/or food cravings are possible.
Pork Tapeworm Parasites (Taenia solium)
Pork tapeworm is similar to beef tapeworm but is shorter, with less than 1000 ploglottids. Pork tapeworm infects man through the eating of infested undercooked pork such as fresh or smoked ham or sausage. Unlike the beef tapeworm, pork tapeworm infection is usually caused by multiple worms rather than just one. The larva stage develops in the muscle, spreads through the central nervous system into other tissues and organs, and finally hooks onto the upper small intestine. Pork tapeworm causes great harm to the human host when the immature larvae invades the muscle, heart, eyes, or brain. The larval migration of pork tapeworm represents the most dangerous infection of all the tapeworms. In the brain, the worms can create a condition known as cysticercosis, which can produce seizures and brain deterioration.
Fish Tapeworm Parasites (Diphyllobothrium latum)
The largest parasite found in humans, a fish tapeworm has up to 4000 proglottids (the worm's primary body). It can be contracted by eating raw or lightly cooked freshwater or certain migratory species of fish, such as Alaskan salmon, perch, pike, pickerel, and turbot. In the human intestine, a fish tapeworm can consume 80 to 100 percent of the host's vitamin B12. A vitamin B12 deficiency or pernicious anemia is a most debilitating effect. Digestive disturbances - including pain, fullness in the upper abdomen, and nausea - are common symptoms.
Liver Fluke Parasites (Clonorchis sinensis)
The liver fluke is transmitted through the ingestion of raw, dried, salted, pickled, or undercooked fish. Snails, carp, and over 40 additional species of fish have been known to be intermediate hosts to this fluke. In the human, it inhabits the bile ducts of the liver, causing the liver to become enlarged and tender. It can also cause inflammation, chills, fever, jaundice, and a type of hepatitis.
Blood Fluke Parasites (Schistosoma mansoni)
Freshwater snails play intermediate host in the life cycle development of the blood fluke. The snails release larvae into water, where the larvae can directly penetrate the skin of humans or fish in contaminated rivers or streams. The parasite burrows into the skin and is carried through the bloodstream to the veins of the liver, intestines, or bladder. Inflammation can occur when the worms lodge in the lining of the intestine or liver. Additionally, the bladder and urinary tract can become infected by worms lodged in the walls of the bladder.