By Gigi Gerow
The definition of a parasite is any organism that lives on or in and at the expense of another species.
The following list is a quick reference to ameobas, flys, protozoas, worms, viruses, and other parasites and the diseases they cause in humans. The list also includes a reference to the bugs that may not themselves be parasites but they transfer parasites to humans. They are called vectors.
As at 04 September 2012 this list is no where near complete and will be updated from time to time.
Last updated 04 September 2012
The bed bug is a blood sucking parasite. They feed on warm blood animals including humans and they transmit dozens of diseases including small pox and the flu.
Occur around the world.
Chagas disease is the South American Sleeping Sickness caused by Tripsansome cruzi. This parasite is spread by the blood sucking Kissing Bug, also known as the triatomine beetle. The beetle is attracted to your face while you sleep. So while you are snoozing the beetle feeds on your blood and defecates the tiny blood parasite on your face.
Occurs in South America and the Southern United States. See Tripanosome cruzi for more information.
Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain caused by a variety of viruses, bacteria and even autoimmune conditions. Arbovirus encephalitis is transmitted by anthropods such as mosquitoes and ticks who acquire the virus from various animals including domestic animals and birds. But any number of viruses or bacteria and can cause enchephalitis.
Children under 1 year of age are extremely vulnerable to the disease as are the elderly.
Occurs around the world in various forms and can be fatal.
In addition to causing a type of dermitis through their bites, fleas transmit typhus, the bubonic plague and tapeworms.
A microscopic round worm transmitted by mosquitoes, the filarial worm causes the debilitating elephantiasis disease when the adult worms block the lymph nodes.
Another form of Elephantiatis (nonfiliarial also called pondoconiosis) is caused by barefoot exposure to soils rich in alkali metals, usually red clay and volcanic soils.
Both forms of elephantiatis are prevalent in Africa but filarial elephantiasis occurs in tropical climates including Southeast Asia. Over 120 million people are infected.
Leishmania in the tripanosoma genus is a flesh eating bug that is spread through the bite of sand flies. There are a variety of species causing various forms of the disease leishmaniasis which is characterized by open sores. Leishmaniasis may appear as ulcers on the skin, in the nose, or a fatal form can attack the internal organs.
Leishmania is found worldwide but the majority of cases of the fatal visceral leishmaniasis occurs in India and neighboring countries and Brazil. The skin ulcer leishmania occurs in Afghanistan, Iran and Middle Eastern countries along with many countries in South America: Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia.
Molluscum Contagiousus is a member of the Poxviridae family of viruses along with Herpes, Shingles, and Chicken Pox. This is a very contagious skin disease that is common among children and acquired through contaminated items such as shared clothing, toys and towels. It may also spread through sexual contact and maybe mistaken for other sexually transmitted diseases such as warts and herpes simplex. Lesions may occur anywhere on the body and are often seen on the face, neck, hands and arms. Curiously it does not occur on the palms or soles of the feet. As long as the outbreak is left alone, it appears not to be bothersome the way that a herpes blister may itch, ooze and sting. The outbreak may last a long time (up to 2 years) before resolving itself. You can learn more about possible treatments on the US National LIbrary of Medicine. It is a pox virus so any natural remedies that work for herpes may help. As with herpes, boost your immune system to fight it off.
Mosquitoes are simply an agent in the transportation and spread of parasitic diseases. Technically, a mosquito is a type of fly, with two wings. In the order Diptera, they are related to a huge number of other annoying creatures including gnats and midges. Mosquitoes are responsible for spreading a variety of infectious diseases including malaria, dengue fever, West Nile virus, yellow fever, encephalitis, elephantiasis and others.
Myiasis is an infection of maggots. Certain maggots have a useful place in medicine such as when used to clean gangrenous wounds. But maggots can also infect open wounds or infect the eye (ocular myiasis) causing blindness.
When the eggs of a fly or gnat find their way into the eye the resulting maggots feed on the retina causing blindness. Ocular Myiasis is diagnosed in 2000 Americans every year.
Plasmodium is a protozoan parasite that gets into human beings through mosquito bites. There are four different species of plamodium each causing their own form of a Malaria which is an infection of the red blood cells.
Occurs around the world in tropical climates
Another protozoan parasite that is transmitted by the bite of the tsetse fly. Occurs in Africa.
This is another protozoan parasite that infects the blood. It is transmitted in a variety of ways: by the Kissing Bug, by eating contaminated food, by a mother to the fetus, or by blood transfusions.
It occcurs in Mexico, Central and South America. Once eradicated in the southern US, Chagas is on the rise again with the influx of immigrants from the countries mentioned.
See also Leishmania
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