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10 Parasites That Affect Humans

written by: R. Elizabeth C. Kitchen•edited by: dianahardin•updated: 4/26/2011

Are you looking for information on human parasites? Here we will discuss the 10 most common human parasites.

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    There are 10 human parasites that are encountered most often. Symptoms can range from mild itching to death. Learning about the different parasites that can affect humans can help people recognize if they have contracted them. Infected persons should seek prompt treatment.

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    Roundworms

    Roundworms typically live in the intestines. Some can enter the body through the skin, but most enter through the mouth. Symptoms may include eye pain, fever, asthma, rashes and intestinal cramping. A variety of antiparasitic drugs, such as medendazole, are used to treat these infections.

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    Hookworms

    This type of parasite usually enter a human when the skin comes into contact with contaminated feces or soil. This parasite usually causes no symptoms. When it does, patients may experience itchy rash, wheezing, abdominal pain, diarrhea, cough, difficulty breathing, weight loss and loss of appetite. Hookworms are usually treated with the antiparasitic drugs albdendazole and medendazole.

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    Pinworms

    These parasites usually enter humans via the consumption of contaminated drinks or food. They can cause trouble sleeping, because of itching, irritability, vaginal discomfort or irritation, intense anal itching, loss of appetite and weight loss. Pinworms are usually treated with the antiparasitic drugs albdendazole and medendazole.

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    Threadworms

    Threadworms usually enter the body through the skin of the feet when a person is walking barefoot. Symptoms may include itching at the entry site, fever, coughing up blood, dry cough, nausea, diarrhea, blood in the stool or difficulty breathing. Albdendazole and medendazole are the two antiparasitic medications most often prescribed.

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    Tapeworms

    Tapeworms occur as a result of ingesting contaminated food or water. Signs and symptoms include nausea, loss of appetite, diarrhea, weakness, abdominal pain and weight loss. An invasive infection may cause fever, allergic reactions, neurological issues, seizures, lumps or cystic masses and bacterial infections. The antiparasitic praziquantel is most often prescribed.

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    Whipworms

    Whipworms occur as a result of eating contaminated food. Symptoms may include diarrhea, abdominal pain and anemia. Medendazole and albdendazole are the most commonly prescribed antiparasitic.

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    Ascarids

    Consuming contaminated food or drink is how this parasite is contracted. Symptoms may include cough, abdominal pain, blood in the stool, fatigue, shortness of breath, nausea and diarrhea, weight loss and noting the worm in stool or vomit. The following antiparasitics are often prescribed: albdendazole, medendazole and pyrantel.

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    Flatworms

    This parasite is contracted through contact with contaminated water. Symptoms can include rash and itching, urinary symptoms, intestinal symptoms, lymph node enlargement, chills and fever and spleen and liver enlargement. This parasite can live in its human host for 20 years. Praziquantel is the most common treatment. Corticosteroids may be prescribed for severe infections.

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    Amoebae

    As one of the 10 human parasites that are most common, this one is often inhaled in through the nose. Contact with contaminated water is another way Amoebae can enter the human body. Consuming contaminated food is another cause. Some signs and symptoms include arthritis-like pain, dysentery, dehydration, leukemia-like symptoms, pain and life-threatening malnutrition. Antiparasitic drugs are commonly used to treat this parasite.

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    Giardia

    This parasite is found in streams and lakes. Person-to-person contact can also spread Giardia. Symptoms may include abdominal pain, bloating or gas, loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting, diarrhea, headache, low-grade fever and swollen abdomen. Anti-infective medications are used to treat this infection.

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    Resources

    UC Davis. "Human Skin Parasites," http://delusion.ucdavis.edu/

    Des Moines Area Community College. "Human Parasites," http://www.dmacc.edu/instructors/human.htm






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