< About Parasites, What is a Parasite from The Parasitology Center Inc, laboratory, diagnosis and treatment for parasites in humans.

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PARASITES

Introduction.
Many of us have heard about parasites in humans such as giardia or amoebas, but we tend to overlook the relationship between these parasites and digestive and systemic diseases and disorders. The common belief that people in the US are free of parasites is a great illusion. Some estimate that about 50 million American children are infected with worm parasites; only a small portion of which is detected and reported. This is particularly worrisome when one recognizes that microscopic (single-celled protozoans), make up about 90% of all parasitic infections in the US according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If existing parasitic infections are evenly distributed, there would be more than enough parasites for every living person to have one. The most recent statistics of the worldwide prevalence of certain selected parasites follows:
Disease
Human infections
Annual deaths
Malaria
489 million
1-2 million
All worms
4.5 billion
 
Ascaris
1.0 billion
20 thousands
Hookworms
900 million
50-60 thousands
Whipworms
750 million
 
Filarial worms
657 million
20-50+ thousands
Schistosomes
200 million
0.5-1.0 million
 
 
This is only some of the examples of parasitism compromising human health worldwide. In temperate areas we are uneducated about the seriousness of parasitic diseases that reach their greatest impact in "tropical" countries from which many immigrate to the US. Contributing factors to parasitic diseases in the US, other than our own endemic parasites and immigration, include malnutrition, population density, economic conditions, sanitary practices, and life styles. Compounding factors in North America include the lack of public/media awareness, educational materials/counseling and training of the public, as well as in some cases, the professional community. It is in this spirit that this educational pamphlet is offered to you.

How we contract parasites.
A parasite is a micro- or macro-organism that needs to satisfy its vital nutritional requirements by feeding off certain host tissues or body fluids that contain the specific biochemicals that it needs. There are parasites for every single tissue of the human body, once they gain access. An intestinal parasite has to gain access via the oral cavity with contaminated food or drink if it is to cause infection. Other portals of entry are irrelevant. Eight ways by which humans can contract parasitic infections are briefly summarized below.

Drinking water : Some of the most common microscopic human parasites (Protozoa) are transmitted via drinking water contaminated with fecal material from infected persons. This simple cycle occurs in water from running streams as well as from tap water in homes in large US and Canadian cities served by surface water treatment plants. Parasites transmitted in this manner include Cryptosporidium and Giardia.

Skin contact with contaminated water : This is the only method of infection available to certain parasites such as the schistosomes, some of the deadliest fluke (trematode) parasites of mankind. After emerging from the snail host, the infective larvae (cercariae) penetrate the skin of a person (swimmer, agricultural worker, children playing, etc.) and migrate in the human body ending up as adults in blood vessels (hepatic portal system). To get infected, one has to be exposed in an endemic area, ex., Africa, China, Mexico, Puerto Rico. At PCI, we have identified eggs in fecal samples from an isolated area near a stream in California nearby where a population of Vietnamese immigrants have settled.

Food : Food intake is perhaps one of the most common ways of transmission of parasitic infections caused by microscopic (Protozoa) and macroscopic (worm, helminth) parasites alike. For example, Blastocystis and the cysts of the amoebas (both are protozoans) are infective when swallowed with contaminated food via the fecal-oral route. This can occur in a household setting or a restaurant. Similarly, the ingestion of the eggs of the human roundworm, Ascaris, readily occurs when fresh vegetables, ex., lettuce, grown in farms fertilized with infected human waste, are eaten without proper washing.

Insects : Most blood sucking insects are capable of transmitting infectious agents via their bite as they attempt to feed on human blood. In the US, ticks transmit lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, relapsing fever, Colorado tick fever, babesiosis, and rabbit fever; fleas transmit plague and endemic typhus, mosquitoes transmit malaria and dog heartworm, Triatoma (kissing) bugs transmit Chagas disease, and head lice can transmit epidemic typhus. If a person has had a history of a recent insect bite in any temperate or tropical part of the world, his/her blood should be tested for parasites. Insect-borne pathogens normally cause no harm to their natural (reservoir) hosts, ex., rodents, but become highly pathogenic in humans (their unnatural hosts).

Air : Air-borne viruses, bacteria, and fungi are usually eliminated with the feces (occasionally orally) of a natural reservoir (usually wildlife) host but infect humans upon accidental inhalation. Examples in North America include histoplasmosis, Valley fever, and Hanta virus. These diseases are associated with bat guano, dust, and rodent feces, respectively.

Pets : Despite what you may have been told, dogs, among other pets, are not man's best friend, parasitologically speaking. Dogs carry an intestinal tapeworm, Echinococcus, whose eggs spread all over their fur from the anal orifice during grooming. Unhealthy human contact with infected dogs, e.g., by kissing, brings the eggs into the human intestine which they penetrate as larvae and encyst in the body cavity, e.g., the liver or even the brain, as the life threatening hydatid cysts. Other worm parasites (helminths) are also readily transmitted from pets and other animals to man. Most notable are the beef and swine tapeworms, Taenia, by the consumption of beef and ham contaminated with larvae of these tapeworms.

People : Close human-to-human contact is conducive to transmission of quite an assortment of sexually transmitted diseases including AIDS and herpes as well as other viruses causing cold and flu. Eating food in a restaurant or at home that may have been contaminated with Taenia eggs or Entamoeba cysts from the servers fecal through improper sanitary practices will surely produce infections with cysticercosis (appearing as lumps in the body or nerve organs) or amoebiasis (causing severe gastrointestinal distress, etc.), respectively. A recent inspection of an expensive restaurant in Los Angeles showed that 100% of all employees (not just servers) had fecal matter under their nails.

Soil : Certain roundworm (nematode) parasites spend their transitional stages between one host and another as immature larvae in warm moist soil. Walking bare-footed or sitting on such fecally contaminated "seeded" soil in a wooded area or by a lake side, etc. will invite the larvae of hookworms or Strongyloides to penetrate the exposed skin and migrate in the body to finally become adults in the intestinal tract where the damage is done.

Publications of Public Health Importance and Wildlife Parasites
 

Pictures of Parasites

Ancylostoma duodendal (human hookworm)

Adults of hookworm infections will lay eggs like the one above in the intestinal tract of patients where they suck their blood intensively to the point of serious anemia and weakness.

Ascaris (human roundworm)

The larvae of the human roundworm is emerging from an egg infecting salad vegetables that become the source of human infections. Such eggs are common in farms fertilized by infected human waste.



Ascaris lumbricoides (roundworm) egg

This is one of few thousand eggs layed or produced by one female human roundworm. The eggs are the transmission stage between one host and another.  Adults feed intensively in the intestines of humans and may pentrate the gut wall causing peritonitis and introducing secondary bacterial infections.

Balantidium coli

Balantidium coli is a common parasite in the intestine of swine where it is harmless. Human infection with the same species upon cross contamination will cause severe intestinal symptoms.



Blastocystis hominis

The most common protozoan parasite in the United States. It constitutes about 60% of all human parasites in N. America and can inflict considerable pathology in the intestinal tract iof infected patients.  See relevant publications by Amin.

Blastocystis Hominis

Blastocystis Hominis is the most common protozoan parasite in the United States and can cause serious pathology. That specimen was obtained from a 26 yr. old female from Brooklyn New York who was suffering from loose stool and intestinal irritations.



Blastocystis Hominis

This 41 yr. old female from Quebec was infected with a large number of Blastocystis organisms, and the most common intestinal protozoa in North America. She was suffering from weight gain, eczema, skin break outs, cold sores, diarrhea and fatigue. Recent history of travel to Mexico, USA, Russia and the Canary Islands.

Blastocystis Hominis

This moderate infection of Blastocystis hominis was detected in a female from Virginia who had recent history of travel to Asia, Fiji Islands, Tonga and the Philippians. She suffered from diarrhea and bloating.



Blastocystis hominis dividing

When Blastocystis is dividing intense pathology is expected as a dividing population indicated fast multiplication of the organsim and increasing population size.

Charcot-Leyden crystals

Charcot-Leyden crystals are by-products of the breakdown of certain human white blood cells as a result of their destruction by certain parasites such as Entamoeba histolytica . Their recovery in fecal samples thus indicates the presence of certain parasites



Clonorchis sinensis (Chinese liver fluke)

Chinese liver flukes spend their immature stages as parasites of snails then fish before infecting a human being upon the ingestion of raw infected fish. The life span of the adult worm in the human host may reach 20-25 years.

Cryptosporidium parvum

This specimen was found in a fecal specimen of a 58 yr. old female from Phoenix, Arizona. Cryptosporidium parvum is the second most common protozoa in North America. It is found in 5%-10% of US population exposed to contaminated water and drinks. This patient suffered from severe diarrhea.



Cryptosporidum parvum

Cryptosporidium parvum is perhaps the most common new parasitic disease in the USA. Infection occurs from drinking water contaminated with calf fecal sources. The tap water of nearly 1/5 of all U.S. homes include infective stages of cryptosporidium as well as Giardia. Symptoms may be present in intestinal as well as extra-intestinal sites and may include fatigue and allergies.

Cyclospora cayetanensis

This parasite is similar to Crytposporium that is purported to be introduced to the United States with berries and other fruits from South America. However recent research shows that the parasite is freely transmitted in fresh vegetables in S. America as well as being waterborne in the U.S. cities served by surface water treatment plants.



Diphyllobothrium latum (tapeworm) egg

The broad fish tapeworm which may reach up to ten feet coiled in the human intestine lays thousands of eggs liuke this one everyday during a lifespan of up to ten years. 

Entamoeba coli cyst

The cyst of E. coli is a transmission stage of infection from one patient to another.  It is a non-feeding stage that resists adverse environmental condtipns outside the host. It is not as damaging as E. histolytica, however, it is known to cause severe diarrhea, especially in children.



Entamoeba Hartmanni

Entamoeba Hartmanni is the smaller form of Entamoeba histolytica/dispar. All these species share the same life cycle pattern.  It causes minor pathology especially in young children and older adults. This specimen was recovered from a 34 year old Washington female who suffered a from bloating and gastric issues.

Entamoeba histolytica trophozoite

This is the feeding stage of the most serious protozoan parasite in the human intestine that sometimes penetrates the gut wall and ends up in the liver and any other part of the body that the blood reaches. Common symptoms include bloody diarrhea (Montezuma's Revenge), inflammation, dysfunction of the liver, and stroke.



Entamoeba histolytica trophozoite

Entamoeba histolytica trophozoites cause intestinal pain, diarrhea / constipation (Montezuma's revenge), immune depression, and skin disorders. It may also cause liver, brain or other tissue pathology. It is transmitted through direct or indirect fecal-oral contamination.

Entamoeba histolytica/dispar trophozote

This Entamoeba histolytica/dispar was recovered from a 43 yr old male from U.K. who is suffering from chrons disease. The clinical relationship between chrons and these parasites suggest that the infection is with the invasive E. histolytica and not with the non-pathogenic E.dispar. These two forms are morphologically distinguishable.



Enterobius vermicularis (pinworm)

These pinworm eggs are the diagnostic stages for serious infections that afflict mostly children and the elderly in the United States and elsewhere in the world.

Fasciola hepatica

Infection with the human liver fluke Fasciola hepatica occurs upon feeding on aquatic plants contaminated with juvenile stages but diagnosed in fecal samples in the egg stage (shown).



Giardia Lamblia

Giardia Lamblia cysts cause severe gastro-intestinal symptoms including diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and malabsorption of food and medication alike. Drinking infected stream water usually causes infection.

Heavy infection of Blastocyctis hominis

Heavy precesence of Blastocystis replaces good bacteria and renders the intestinal lining helpless in combating the infection. Such cases will produce serious skin pathologies, allergies and sensitivities caused by the metabolic byproducts of these large parasite populations.



Hymenolepsis diminuta (rodent tapeworm)

This is the egg of the rodent tapeworm, Hymenolepsis diminuta, which can also infect the small intestine of humans. Infections in humans are acquired by accidentally uingesting infected beetles in various grain products.

Hymenolepsis nana (dwarf tapeworm)

Adults of the dwarf tapeworm infect humans and rodents upon the ingestion of the immature stages from the body cavity of the intermediate hosts, which are usually beetles contaminting food items such as grains.



Iodamoeba butschilii heavy infection

This protozoan is often found in patients that may show clinical symptoms while other patients may not. It is usually pathogenic with patients with a comprimised immune system, but no so much in patients with resistant immune systems.

Nematode Larvae

Nematode Larvae of various species are commonly associated with GI and constitutional symptoms. These specimens were found in 71 yr. old female from Peoria, Arizona was suffering from cramping, GI upset, diarrhea, mylase, dizziness, headaches, and body aches. Previously diagnosed with IBS.



Nematode Larvae

This is an anterior end of a Nematode Larvae in the stool specimen of a 46 yr. old male. Who noted no symptoms, travel history or past infections. He was also infected with Candida, common yeast and Geotrichum.

Nematode Larvae

This is the mid-section of a Nematode Larvae from a stool specimen of a 58 yr. old female from the U.K who suffered from bloating and related GI symptom. She was previously infected with H. pylori, Candida. she traveled to Russia, Mediterranean, Abu Dhabi



Nematode Larvae

This specimen includes a number of larval Nematodes and Squamous Epithelial cells detected from a urine specimen of a female from Phoenix, Az. She has traveled to Nicaragua, U.K, India, Costa Rica. She suffered from alternating diarrhea, fatigue, joint pain, hemorrhoids, itchy anus. The presence of Squamous Epithelial cells in a urine specimen associated with Nematode or other infections indicates serious pathology. 

P westernmani (Human lung fluke)

This human lung fluke produces eggs like this one that are eliminated with the host stool into water environment after which they spend their immature stages in intermediate hosts such as snails and crabs. When the crab is eaten, a new host becomes infected.



Paragonimus westernmani

This is the egg of the lung fluke that is produced by the adults in the lungs then traveling through the bronchial tubes into the oral cavity and then swallowed and subsequently detected in fecal specimens of infected patients.

Staphylococcus

This heavy presence of Staphylococcus infection was found in the urine of a 47 yr. old female from Phoenix, Arizona. She suffered from skin rashes and brain fog. We find a common association between Staph infections in the urinary track and constitutional and skin issues. 



Strongyloides stercoralis (threadworm) larva

This threadworm, Strongyloides, is diagnosed in cases where infection is acquired by the penetration of the larva stages into the bare skin of people exposed to soiled environment contaminated with fecal matter from infected cases.

Taenia solium

The recovery of eggs of the human/swine tapeworm Taenia solium indicates the presence of the ten-foot long adults in the intestine. When the immature cysts are present in other organ systems, they often invade the brain and sense organs causing neurocysticerocosis (damage to the central nervous system).



Tapeworm egg

This broad fish tapeworm egg is one of many that are eliminated from infected hosts into the water where they are ingested by Copepod crustacean in which they develop before being ingested by fish which subsequently transmits the infection to humans.

Trichuris trichura (whipworm)

The egg of the whipworm Trichuris trichura which can cause serious pathology, extensive bleeding, and damage to nerve elements in the lower intestine.



Bean Sprouts

Bean sprouts are undigested plant parts that are indicators of diet preferences and can be confused with small roundworms.

Citrus particles

These citrus parts that remain undigested are often confused with parasitic worms.



Columnar epithelial cells

Columnar epithelial cells line the upper intestine and are the bio-markers of damge to that area.  The damage can be due to biological or toxic factors.

Crystals

These crystals are present in patients who are heavily medicated with antibiotics.



Fatty acid crystal

Fatty acid crystals are found when the fatty acids are not broken down by pancreatic lipases,  This is usually seen in patients with gall bladder problems and pancreatic dysfunction.

Large number of white blood cells

The presence of WBC's indicate an attempt to contain the operation of infective processes or punishing toxilogical factors.  We often see granulocytes and sometyimes lymphocytes.  HIV patients often have a high number of WBC's and low levels of benefical bacteria.



Mite egg

Mite eggs are another artifact confused as roundworm eggs, and are present by accidental ingestion from dust mite sources in the home environment.

Morel Mushroom spore

The Morel mushroom spores look like many roundworm eggs.



Mucoid tubes

Mucoid tubes are a natural secretion of the intestinal lining that protects it from compromising factors such as parasites, toxins, infavorable PH levels, etc. They are often confused as  roundworms.

Normal bacilli (good bacteria)

Normal bacilli are the rod shaped good bacteria that include the Bifidus and Lactobacillus forms and are important for balanced GI function.



Plant fibers

Undigested plant fibers are indicative of poor digestion and the need for digestive enzymes.

Plant parasite

These are the eggs of a parasitic nematode that normally infects plants but may be accidentally ingested by humans.



Pollen grain

Pollen grains from various pollen carrying plants are readily identifiable.  While they have no immediate pathological signifigance, they are still regarded as a factor in host allergies.

Pollen grain

This pollen grain of broccoli is an indicator of food preferences and a marker for pollen allergies.



RBC

These are normal blood cells detected in stool specimen from a male in New Jersey who noticed no symptoms or past infections. The presence of RBC specimens are suggested of intestinal bleeding even in the absent of other symptoms. He has traveled to Aruba.

RBC

This blood film shows red blood cells in a Rouleux form suggestive of poor circulation chronic inflammation and high proteins and / or, fats toxicity. Some cells are crenated suggesting excessive free radical damage and excessive cholesterol absorption.



RBC

This blood film demonstrates crenated cells from a male patient from Texas. RBC Crenation is usually related to excessive free radical damage and excessive cholesterol absorption.

RBC

This blood film is from a 43 yr. old female from Virginia which shows very few Elliptocytic RBC’s. Elliptocytes are usually associated with erythrocyte glutathione, iron deficiency anemia, and mega blastic anemia. She suffered from severe diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, food sensitivities, itching, IBS, and stomach pain.



RBC's

The presence of RBC's indicates bleeding in the digestive tract.  Many factors can cause bleeding including the active feeding of parasites such as hookworms like Ancylostoma duodenale.

Squamos epithelial cells

Squamos epithelial cells line the lower intestine.  Their presence in significant numbers indicate damage to the intestinal area from where they are shed.



Starch

Strch granules indicates that carbohydrates are not being digested properly and calls for the use of digestive enzymes that include amylase.

Tomato skin

Tomato skins are are one of the many undigested plant food items that we identify in submitted fecal specimens and are often confused as tapeworms.



Undigested plant hair

Undigested plant hairs are one of the many plant parts that are seen in fecal specimens that look like small roundworms.  Misdiagnosis can lead to improper treatment.

Undigested potatoes

The improper digestion of starches such as undigested potatoes indicates the lack of amaylases and the need for digestive enzymes.



Blastoschizomyces (fungi)

The image portrayed is that of a vegatative form as cultured in an artificial media to observe it's growth, infectivity, and resistance to chemical treatment.

Candida albicans (in culture form)

Candida albicans, the common cause of Candidiasis, can be cultured for experimental purposes, to ascertain it's identity.



Candida in lungs

Intestinal Candidiasis can become bloodborne and turn systemic affecting a large variety of organ systems including the lungs.

Conidium of the airborne fungus Alternaria

One of a number of fungi species that can be inhaled or swallowed and subsequently found in fecal specimens.  It's presence indicates a fungus contaminated environment.



Cryptococcus laurentis (fungi)

Cryptococcus is one of the many different kinds of fungi that can be found in fecal specimens of infected patients.

Heavy Candida infection

Heavy Candida infections are commonly encountered with a change in the acidity Ph levels of the intestinal tract and are commonly associated with autism. Treatment of Candidaisis in autistic children usually involve the administration of caprylic acid which is usually deficient in autistic children.



Heavy infection of common yeast

The common yeast is often found in human fecal specimens, especially men.  It is a common fungus that can become pathogenic when found in high numbers or dividing.

Heavy mucus

This heavy precense of mucus balls indicates serious intestinal pathology caused by a large number of Cryptosporiodum organisms.



More mucus

An example of one of many mucus balls indicating that the intestinal lining in this area was heavily comprimised with a pathogenic infection or intense toxicity.

Very heavy mucus

Heavy mucus secretions are usually observed when the intestinal lining is comprimised by a high intensity parasitic infection.  In this particular case this mucus secretion was caused by Blastocystis hominis.



Corynosoma 11

This is the genital opening of the female acanthocephalan parasitising the Caspian Sea.

Corynosoma 18

The broken probosicis hook of the seal acanthocephalan showing the two layered structure of hooks.



Corynosoma 19

The disected intestine of a Caspian seal showing the attachment of the spiny headed worm Corynosoma.

Corynosoma 2

The proboscis and neck of Corynosoma strumosom.



Corynosoma 20

The proboscis of Corynosoma stromosum penetrating the gut of a seal

caught in the Caspian Sea in Northern Iran.

Corynosoma 3

The pattern of distribution of trunk spines characteristic of the Caspian Sea acanthocephalan Corynsoma strumosom.



Corynosoma 4

The posterior end of a female Corynosoma strumosom from a Caspian seal showing the body spines that are used for adhesion of the intestinal wall of the host.

Corynosoma 5

The bald anterior end of a proboscis of Corynosoma characteristic of the species from seals.



Corynosoma 9

A high magnification of one of the trunk spines characteristic of the Caspian seal acanthocephalan.

Corynosoma strumosom (parasite of seals)

Proboscis of Corynosoma strumosom, a spiny headed worm that parasites seals in the Caspian Sea.