Parasites, Worms and Flukes
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Parasites or Helminths
Over 340 varieties of parasites can live in the human body. The scientific name for parasites is helminths. Many form large colonies inside the folds within your colon. Others attach themselves to the inner walls of your colon and small intestine. Some parasites live in the skin, blood, tissues, and organs - and even in the brain!
A human parasite is an organism or animal which lives inside the host human and survives and thrives by either eating the food ingested by the host, or by eating body cells and tissues of the host. The parasite which is able to find enough food to survive will reproduce and eventually cause an infestation.
An infection by parasites in the human body is called human helminthiasis. Infections by parasitic worms are called filarial infections. This article deals with INTERNAL human parasites such as roundworms, tapeworms, flukes, and the single-celled amoebae and protoza which live inside the human body, including the two blood-sucking roundworm species called hookworms and whipworms.
It does not discuss the biting and blood-sucking parasites like mosquitos, horseflies, leeches and vampire bats which temporarily feed on a human host from outside, or those insect vampires like ticks, fleas, lice and bedbugs which attach themselves to the outer skin. In tropical regions, residents and tourists can be infected with serious diseases by the bite of mosquitos which transmit the parasitic Plasmodium protozoa which causes Malaria, and also the virus which causes Dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF).
In its award-winning documentary, The Body Snatchers, National Geographic magazine reported: "In fact, parasites have killed more humans than all the wars in history." In the August 2000 issue of Discover magazine, an article titled Do Parasites Rule the World? stated: "Every living thing has at least one parasite that lives inside or on it, and many, including humans, have far more."
Even newborn or very young babies can be infested with parasites. Everyone on earth will have some kind of internal parasite, but most will not even be aware of them. Many are relatively harmless, like pinworms. But some can cause very debilitating and difficult-to-diagnose diseases. And infection by some parasites like the Naegleria fowleri brain-eating amoeba almost always lead to death of the human host.
The roundworm known as Toxocara canis, which often infects dogs, is now causing a common parasitic infection called toxocarias among inner city African-American and Hispanic children. It is estimated that as many as 23 percent of Americans who live in poverty are exposed to this parasitic worm. Toxocara canis causes a lung disease that resembles asthma. This roundworm infection may be misdiagnosed as asthma, and inappropriate and ineffective treatments may be mistakenly prescribed. Toxocarias can also cause liver and brain disease.
Cysticercosis, which is caused by the tapeworm Taenia solium, is becoming the leading cause of epilepsy among Hispanic populations in the USA.
Toxoplasmosis, an infection by the parasite protozoa Toxoplasma gondii, is now a leading cause of congenital birth defects among Mexican Americans and African Americans. The Toxoplasma parasite is often transmitted to humans through contact with the feces of cats who have eaten an infected mouse or bird, or through contact with garden soil or vegetables which have been in contact with cat feces.
Parasitic worm eggs or oocysts are most often carried to the mouth on fingers which have been in contact with feces - or with grass, soil, kitty litter, dog fur, diapers, or bathroom surfaces which have been contaminated with feces which contain the parasite's eggs or larvae (fecal-oral transmission).
Tapeworm larvae which form protective cysts inside the muscle tissue of cattle, pigs, sheep, rabbits, wild game, and fish can be ingested when a human eats meat or fish which has not been cooked to a temperature high enough to kill the larvae. Just one cubic inch of raw Grade A beef often contains more than 1,000 parasite larvae!
You would be wise to avoid cooking your cuts of meat or hamburgers only to the "rare" or "medium rare" state, which is not hot enough to kill all the tapeworm larvae in the center portion. And consider the risk in consuming sushi made with raw fish.
Now you might understand why the ancient texts known as the Christian Bible and the Hebrew Torah warn against eating "swine" or pork. An ingested pork tapeworm larva (Taenia solium) is the one most likely to cause serious damage or even death, because it prefers to migrate to the central nervous system and can form an ever-enlarging cyst in the spinal cord or the brain or the eyes. The pressure exerted by the growing cyst can cause paralysis or brain damage or blindness.
Blood flukes and their eggs usually enter the body by drinking water which contains them. Microscopic protozoa and amoebae also enter the body in contaminated drinking water or by eating food washed in contaminated water.
Some microscopic parasites, like the Trichomonas vaginalis protozoa, can be transmitted by sexual contact. This is presently one of the most common STDs in women and men.
Some human parasites are transferred from animals to humans in the form of tiny and almost invisible eggs or larvae which attach to the animal's fur or are present in their mouths. A tiny worm larva or the oocyst stage of a worm can enter a human after being transferred to the human's fingers, which later touch their lips or food they consume - or when a pet cat or dog licks their face or hand and it gets transferred into their mouth.
Kissing a beloved cat or dog is an even more efficient way to transfer parasites from the pet's fur directly to the pet owner's lips and mouth. Don't be misled by the myth that a dog's mouth is cleaner than a human mouth (human mouths are never "clean" and mouth-to-mouth contact can transmit many diseases). Don't think that kissing your dog (or cat) is not going to cause any problems. You would be exposing yourself to many kinds of infections by nasty parasites that can be present in your pet's fur or mouth!
You should also wash your hands after touching objects such as balls or toys which have been in your pet's mouth, or when a dog or cat licks your hand. Letting your pet sleep on your bed presents a risk of transmitting parasite eggs or larvae from your pet's fur or mouth to the bedclothes, and from there to your hands or mouth.
The risk of parasite infection is greatly increased when your pet dog or cat spends time outdoors, and especially if it catches wild animals such as mice and birds, or comes into contact with dog or cat feces. Also, you should avoid walking barefoot on (or exposing bare skin to) any ground which has been contaminated by feces from dogs, cats, or humans.
Most Common Species of Human Parasite (Helminths)
An estimated 150 million Americans have an intestinal parasite infestation, and over 55 million American children have parasite worms. Ascaris Lumbricoides, a large roundworm, is the most common nematode parasite found in humans, infecting an estimated 1.47 billion individuals world-wide!
The most common helminth (parasite) species are:
Some helminths which are found worldwide, but are less common, include:
Where Human Parasites (helminths) Live in Our Bodies
How Parasites Affect Our Health
Parasites sap our strength and weaken our immune system. They steal nutrients from the food passing through our GI tract and leave us malnourished and sluggish even when we eat healthy foods. Some chronic ailments such as allergies, arthritis, and chronic fatigue have been linked to an infection by parasites.
The epithelial cells in the lining of the colon absorb water and electrolytes and transport them directly to the bloodstream. Parasites (and toxins) in the intestines can sometimes enter the blood and be carried to the organs and tissues of the body.
Some common symptoms which may indicate the presence of human intestinal parasites (helminthiasis) such as colon parasites and blood parasites:
Parasites can be the cause of many ailments which are often mistakenly diagnosed as a bacterial infection, for which antibiotic drugs may be inappropriately prescribed. Antibiotics are usually ineffective against parasites, and they can make matters worse by killing all the beneficial probiotic bacteria which normally help keep parasites, pathogenic bacteria, yeast and fungus under control.
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The scientific name for worms is Nematodes. Most nematode species are not parasitic, but some common types of parasitic intestinal worm are the pinworm, whipworm, hookworm, and roundworm. Tapeworms (see above) are not nematodes, but are actually a species of Platyhelminth or flatworm, and are more closely related to flukes.
Pinworms (Enterobius vermicularis) are the most common parasite worm found in humans. Pinworms are also known as threadworms. Over 40 million cases of pinworm infection occur in the USA.
The 8 to 13 millimeter female pinworms cause an annoying itchiness in the anal area, and they are very infectious. Unlike other parasitic worms, they rarely do any damage to the body, but the itching and crawling sensations can cause sleep disturbances. And sometimes the pinworms can cause an intestinal abcess and bleeding.
The larger female pinworms are 8 to 13 millimeters in length, while the males are only 1 to 4 millimeters. Pinworms live in the lower small intestine and upper colon, and rarely enter other parts of the body. But after breeding the male dies and the female pinworm migrates to the anus and lays eggs at night, leaving through the anus and depositing 10 to 20 thousand eggs in the area of skin around the anus.
The female pinworm then secretes a substance which causes a strong itching sensation that induces the host to scratch the anal area - sometimes while half asleep - which then transfers the eggs to the finger nails and pillows and bedclothes, where they can later be passed to the mouth. When ingested orally, the eggs hatch into larvae which eventually find their way into the intestines, and the life cycle of the pinworm repeats.
Sometimes the female pinworms miss returning through the anus after laying their eggs, and end up entering and infecting the vagina of a female adult or child.
Hookworms are like little voracious vampires which get into your intestines and will suck your blood until you have little left of your red blood cells!
World-wide, an estimated 65,000 deaths per year are directly attributed to hookworm infections. An estimated 44 million pregnant women have hookworm infections which can cause chronic loss of blood from the intestines and predisposes the women to developing iron deficiency anemia (and sometimes a severe deficiency).
In developing tropical and subtropical countries, hookworm infestation is a leading cause of death of the mother and/or child during childbirth. In babies born to infected mothers, hookworms can also cause mental retardation, growth retardation, premature birth, and low birth weight.
Hookworms such as Necator americanus and Ancylostoma duodenale live in the small intestine, where they bite the intestinal lining and suck on the tissue, which can cause bleeding and death of the tissue (necrosis). If the infection by these "vampire" hookworms is severe, it can cause an iron deficiency anemia when most or all of the iron in the red blood cells is ingested by the hookworm.
There have been cases where hemoglobin levels were as low as 15% of normal in sufferers with severe and chronic hookworm infections.
Hookworms are like little vampires which feed on your blood and body tissue. Just one adult hookworm is able to drain one-tenth of a milliliter of blood from its human host per day. That means 1000 of them could cause an infected human to lose a tenth of a liter of blood per day, or a liter in ten days.
In developed countries, a hookworm infection is rarely fatal, but a severe iron deficiency anemia can occur in heavily infected persons.
It is estimated that one-quarter of the world's population are infected with hookworms. The most common species in North and South America, South Africa, Southeast Asia, China, and Indonesia is Necator americanus; while Ancylostoma duodenale is the predominant species in India, the Middle East, and North Africa, and was formerly the predominant species in southern Europe.
Necator americanus can cause a long-term infection, since some adult worms have been observed to live for 15 years or more! Ancylostoma duodenale have short life spans, as the adults survive for only about 6 months on average.
The life cycle of the hookworm starts with the eggs being laid in the small intestine and being passed out in the stools. The eggs need shaded, warm soil to incubate, then the hatching larvae enter the bodies of humans who walk barefoot on the infected soil or feces by burrowing through the skin and traveling to the lungs in the bloodstream. They can cause a rash and itching where they enter through the skin.
Then the larvae climb up the lungs through the bronchi and trachea. They exit the lungs in sputum coughed up and then swallowed. Sudden but temporary fits of coughing (sometimes with blood in the sputum) may be a sign of hookworm larvae in the lungs. The coughed up larvae then pass through the digestive tract to the small intestine, where they attach themselves to the lining. The larvae mature into adult worms which feed on the blood of the host, mate, produce eggs, and start the cycle again.
The symptoms of a LIGHT hookworm infection are often not noticed (i.e. the infection may be asymptomatic).
Symptoms of a hookworm infection in the lungs:
Symptoms of a HEAVY intestinal hookworm infection:
Symptoms of a chronic PROLONGED hookworm infection:
In severe cases which lead to death the symptoms may be dysentery, hemorrhages and oedema.
The skin-invading larvae of the hookworm species Ancylostoma duodenale do not all pass through the lungs, into the throat, and down into the gut. They spread through the body within the bloodstream and may become dormant inside muscle fibers.
In infected pregnant women, after childbirth some or all of the dormant larvae are stimulated (perhaps by hormonal changes) to leave the muscles and re-enter the bloodstream, then pass into the mammary glands. Then the baby who is breast-fed can receive a large number of the infective larvae through the mother's milk. This nasty parasite's insidious invasion of innocent babies is known as translactational transmission of infection.
This would explain the otherwise inexplicable cases of very heavy, or even fatal, hookworm infections in children only about a month old, which occurs in places such as India, China, and northern Australia.
An identical situation occurs even more frequently in puppies born to female dogs who had earlier been infected with the Ancylostoma caninum hookworm. The newborn pups can even die of hemorrhaging from their intestines being caused by large numbers of feeding hookworms.
Roundworms such as Ascaris lumbricoides can grow to be 12 to 14 inches long! The adult males are smaller than the females. Each year an estimated 60,000 deaths world-wide are attributed to Ascaris lumbricoides.
Ascaris infections occur throughout the world but are most common in tropical and subtropical areas where sanitation and hygiene are poor and humans defecate on the ground, since the worm eggs are transmitted by fecal-oral contact with human fecal matter which contains the eggs.
Children are infected more often than adults, possibly because they can come into contact with the sticky and very infectious roundworm eggs while playing in dirt or on ground which has been contaminated with human feces or sewage and then touch their mouths with fingers contaminated with the almost invisible worm eggs. Also, children are not as careful to wash their hands before eating as adults.
Pigs may also be infected, so contact with pig manure containing the worm eggs, or vegetables grown in contaminated pig manure, can transmit the Ascaris eggs to the mouth of a new human host.
In the USA, Ascaris infection is not frequent, but is most common in the rural areas of the southeastern states, especially where outdoor toilets are in use.
An infection by the Ascaris nematode parasite is called ascariasis. Ascariasis is more common in North America, and trichuriasis (whipworm infection) is more common in Europe.
Ascariasis is also known commonly as the "large roundworm" infection, and ascariasis is the most common of all human worm infections. This roundworm lives in the small intestine, but may spend part of its early life cycle passing through the lungs (where it produces asthma-like symptoms), and may occasionally migrate to other organs.
Most people have no symptoms that are noticeable (i.e. are asymptomatic). But an Ascaris infection may cause slower growth and slower weight gain in children.
If you become heavily infected with large roundworms, it may cause abdominal pain if the worms cause a blockage in your intestines.
Sometimes, after the roundworm eggs are ingested, the newly-hatched immature worms migrate through the human host's lungs, which causes coughing, difficulty breathing, and other symptoms similar to allergies or asthma.
Ascaris roundworms have a migratory stage where larvae that have hatched from ingested eggs in the small intestine penetrate into the tissues and reach the lungs by way of the lymph system or ciculatory system (i.e. in the blood). The larvae then break out of the pulmonary capillaries into the air sacs of the lung, and from there ascend into the throat and then descend into the stomach and into the small intestine. The larvae in the lungs may induce severe coughing that expels them into the throat so they can travel down to the stomach and small intestine.
In the small intestine the roundworms can grow to be as long as 31 centimeters, with a diameter of 4 centimeters. When the worms are driven out after taking a worm treatment, one may see a mass which resembles a cup or two of spaghetti passing out of the anus and into the toilet bowl.
Roundworms can cause some painful severe symptoms such as pancreatic, biliary or intestinal obstructions when they sometimes travel to other areas of the body. They can also be the cause of appendicitis.
Whipworms (Trichuris trichiura or Trichocephalus trichiuris) are a particularly nasty type of roundworm that injects a digestive fluid into the tissue of the large intestine, which turns it into a liquid which the worms then feed upon, literally eating the human host. The eggs hatch in the small intestine, but the adult worms migrate and make their home in the colon and rectum.
An infection by Trichuris worms is called trichuriasis or just a "whipworm infection".
Whipworm infections are most frequent in areas with a tropical climate and poor sanitation practices that allow hand-to-mouth contact with human feces containing the infectious whipworm eggs. Trichuriasis sometimes occurs in the southern United States, especially in rural areas with outdoor toilets. It is estimated that 800 million people are infected worldwide, and children are the most likely to be infected.
A light infestation of whipworms often presents no symptoms (is asymptomatic). But a kind of vague digestive tract discomfort may accompany the intestinal worm infection as the adult whipworms feed upon the tissue and secretions of the intestine.
Typical Trichuriasis symptoms:
In small children with more than a few whipworms there may be intestinal blockages by the larger worms in a child's smaller intestines.
In adults and children a heavy whipworm infestation may cause bloody diarrhea, streaks of blood in the stools, rectal prolapse, and malnutrition. A long-term loss of blood to these vampire worms may lead to iron-deficiency anemia.
Unlike the Ascaris roundworm larvae, Trichuris larvae do NOT migrate after hatching so they are rarely found in other tissues and organs. The larvae molt and mature within the intestine. The adult whipworms are not as large as Ascaris lumbricoides.
Other varieties of whipworms commonly infect dogs and pigs, and more rarely, cats.
An amoeba is a single-cell organism which lives in freshwater stagnant ponds, soil, streams, lakes, the ocean, and the bodies of other organisms. The largest amoeba is about 1 millimeter in diameter, and most species of amoeba are not visible to the naked eye. Most species of amoeba are harmless to humans.
The parasitic amoebae (amoebae is the plural form of amoeba) can live in your liver, lungs, heart, and even your brain. These tiny parasites can enter you while in their cyst form (a dormant form protected within a cyst, similar to the spore of a fungus), and then once they find themselves in an hospitable environment to feed upon a host like you and your body, they change to their trophozite form which feeds and then replicates by binary fission (where one single-celled amoeba divides its body to become two amoebae).
Some amoebae will replicate once in about a day, while others will divide in two and thus double their numbers about every seven hours!
Five species of amoeba are highly pathogenic to humans.
Naegleria fowleri is a fairly common amoeba which lives harmlessly among decaying vegetation near the shallow shores of freshwater lakes with warm water (77 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit) in the southern states of the USA such as Florida, Louisiana, Texas, and Arizona.
But when a human (often a child) splashes around in the shallow water and happens to get the water containing this amoeba into his or her nasal passages, the N. fowleri can become pathogenic and penetrate the olfactory mucosa and nasal tissues, resulting in significant hemorrhaging in the olfactory bulbs, and soon causing primary amoebic meningoencephalitis (PAM or PAME) - a syndrome which affects the central nervous system.
From the nose, the N. fowleri amoebae can climb along the olfactory nerve fibers up through the floor of the cranium and into the brain, where they literally eat the nerve and brain tissue cells. The onset of PAM is characterized by changes in olfactory perception (taste and smell), soon followed by vomiting, nausea, fever, headache, and the rapid onset of coma and death within two weeks!
Naegleria fowleri has killed six people in the USA in 2007 (3 in Florida, 2 in Texas, and 1 in Arizona) and was widely reported in the media as "the brain-eating amoeba". Years earlier, it was mentioned as a "brain-sucking amoeba" that infects swimmers in the season 1 episode of the TV sci-fi drama series, The X-files: "Darkness Falls". Naegleria fowleri was also featured in the TV medical drama House, in two episodes of season 2.
Scientists predict that N. fowleri infections will increase as global warming progresses and world-wide waters become increasingly warm, since warm water is where this amoeba lives and flourishes. There is no known cure, and the time from diagnosis to death is very short, making early treatment almost impossible. In the USA, only 3% of patients in a clinical setting have survived a nasal infection by this deadly parasitic amoeba.
Anyone who experiences the above symptoms, such as a nosebleed, after swimming in a very warm lake or pond or slow-moving river should seek emergency treatment immediately, especially if the water had gone up their nose. Wearing noseplugs is advised when swimming in warm water, or even in warm freshwater swimming pools with inadequate chlorination. This deadly amoeba can also be found in hot tubs and warm jacuzzi spas with inadequate chemical purification, so it would be wise to avoid putting your head under the water.
Protozoa are single-celled animal organisms of microscopic size which reproduce through cell division. Many protozoa are harmless, but some parasitic protozoa like Giardia lamblia cause serious illnessess in humans and mammals.
Like the parasitic worms (nematodes), these microscopic protozoan parasites can be transmitted through mammal and human feces when poor hygiene causes fecal to oral contact. But worse, the very hardy cyst form of these protozoa (similar to the spore stage of fungus organisms) can survive in many unfavorable soil and water environments and then be transmitted to humans and mammals through contaminated drinking water when the level of chlorination or purification is insufficient to kill the protozoa cysts. When they enter the favorable environment of the mammalian or human body, the cysts transform into the parasitic trophozoite form of the protozoa and infect the body of the host.
Trichomonas vaginalis is a microscopic flagellate protozoa which does not appear to have a cyst stage and can survive outside the host body for only about 24 hours in a water environment. Humans are its only known host, and it spreads primarily during sexual intercourse.
Trichomonas is the most common pathogenic protozoan parasite infecting humans in the industrialized countries.
An infection with Trichomonas is called trichomoniasis and it is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases, mainly affecting sexually active women. This parasite is found worldwide, and in North America it is estimated that more than 8 million new cases are reported each year.
In women, a Trichomonas vaginalis infection often produces symptoms of vaginitis with a purulent vaginal discharge which is often greenish-yellow in color. (Note that a white vaginal discharge with the texture of cottage cheese and an odor like beer or yeast may indicate a vaginal yeast infection caused by Candida albicans, which is much more common than a Trichomonas infection.)
This greenish-yellow discharge can be accompanied by abdominal pain, vulvar and cervical lesions, dysuria and dyspareunia. In men, trichomoniasis is frequently asymptomatic, but occasionally infections such as urethritis, epididymitis, and prostatitis can occur. Painful urination is a common sign of trichomoniasis.
Some other symptoms of a Trichomonas vaginalis infection in women include: preterm delivery and low birth weight and increased mortality of newborn babies; as well as increased risk of HIV infection, AIDS, and cervical cancer.
For treatment of trichomoniasis the drugs of choice are Metronidazole (known as "Metro") and Tinidazole.
Some common types of microscopic parasite protozoa that can be ingested with unpurified drinking water are Giardia lamblia and Cryptosporidium. Learn more about Cryptosporidium infections below.
Giardiasis is an infection of the upper digestive tract caused by a microscopic human parasite called Giardia lamblia which lives in the small intestine. It is sometimes referred to as Lamblia intestinalis or Giardia duodenalis.
An estimated 1% to 20% of the U.S. population have giardiasis - an infection by the microscopic Giardia parasite. In developing countries the rate of giardiasis may be 20% or higher, and it is a major cause of epidemics of childhood diarrhea.
Giardia lamblia is a common cause of gastroenteritis in humans, infecting an estimated 200 million people world-wide.
You may have experienced a bout of giardiasis while on vacation in a country where you were advised not to drink the local water. Even though you are careful to drink only bottled water, if you order a drink with ice cubes made from the local water you could be infected with the Giardia parasite.
As few as ten of the microscopic Giardia protozoan parasite organisms in a glass of water could cause a severe case of giardiasis in the human who drinks it.
Travelers to Mexico often experience an illness known as "Montezuma's Revenge" or "the curse of Montezuma" and spend several days of their vacation close to the toilet while suffering a severe case of watery diarrhea, cramps, and low-grade fever.
Though a similar sickness (but where vomiting more frequently occurs) could be caused by ingesting a pathogenic strain of E. Coli bacteria in the water, this illness is usually caused by the tiny intestinal parasite protozoa known as Giardia lamblia being ingested with local drinking water or with fruits and vegetables washed in contaminated water.
Tourists should eat only fruits and vegetables with skins that they have peeled themselves, and not eat the skins. They should thoroughly wash their hands after touching the outside of raw fruits and vegetables, and should be careful not to transfer Giardia on the outside skins to the pulp inside.
Travelers who wish to avoid an infection by Giardia and other illnesses caused by a parasite, bacteria, virus, yeast or fungus should look into the benefits of taking 500 to 600 mg. per day of natural Allicin from garlic during their journey, especially if traveling by air where they will be re-breathing the air exhaled by hundreds of fellow passengers in the closed space of an airplane.
Giardia lamblia is a single-celled Protozoa which reproduces by cell division (binary fission). It is a flagellate protozoa which propels itself by rapidly moving a whip-like appendage.
This tiny human parasite attaches itself to the lining of the small intestine, where it feeds and inhibits the absorption of fats and carbohydrates from digested foods.
Unabsorbed fats are passed out in the stools, and the fat gives the feces a shiny or greasy appearance (steatorrhea), a light color, and a foul odor. Fat is lighter than water, so the excess fat content usually causes the feces or diarrhea to float at the surface of the toilet water. Unabsorbed carbohydrates are food for yeast and bacteria which produce gasses, and the gas content will also make the stools float. Rancid or decomposing fat can produce very foul smelling gas.
A Giardia lamblia colonization in the small intestine can cause inflammation and an atrophy of the villae, which reduces the ability of the small intestine to absorb nutrients from food.
Healthy individuals with strong immune systems usually recover from giardiasis, but those with a compromised immune system can suffer recurring or chronic Giardia infections. A chronic condition can cause a lactase deficiency (which inhibits the ability to digest the lactose in dairy foods), malabsorption of nutrients, as well as recurring bouts of diarrhea, excess gas, bloating, or pain in the abdomen above the level of the navel.
This protozoan microbe can transform into a dormant and protective cyst form, which is excreted in the feces. When out in the environment, the highly infective Giardia cyst can survive for weeks or months on the ground or in water.
The Giardia lamblia parasite is most often transmitted through contaminated water, and is one of the main causes of diarrhea in the USA. Its cyst form can survive the typical amounts of chlorine disinfectant used to purify town water supplies. Giardia cysts can also survive for more than two months in cold water.
Giardia cysts are commonly present in water reservoirs, water systems, cisterns, wells, lakes, streams, and especially in the artificial lakes made by beavers and their dams. Due to this connection with beavers, which can be infected by Giardia themselves and transmit the Giardia cysts through their feces, Giardiasis is also called "beaver fever".
Giardia lamblia is also common in dogs, cats, cattle, horses, sheep and several wild animals, and is spread through their feces.
When transferred by contact with feces (due to poor hygiene) from hand to mouth (fecal-oral transmission) and then ingested, the cysts can survive in stomach acid until passed to the small intestine. In this favorable environment the Giardia cyst transforms into its active parasitic trophozoite form and begins feeding and reproducing rapidly by cell division.
The Giardia trophozoite resides in the upper small intestine, where it attaches itself to the lining. It rarely travels elsewhere in the body, except when the cysts are carried in the feces to the outside world.
A third to half of the people infected may not notice any visible symptoms. When a Giardia lamblia parasite infection does cause symptoms of giardiasis, the illness usually appears within one to two weeks and begins with:
Then other symptoms of giardiasis follow, including:
The Giardiasis symptoms may last for 5 to 7 days, or even longer. Over time, a child may lose weight and begin to show signs of poor nutrition. After the acute or short-term symptoms of giardiasis pass, the illness manifests as a chronic or more prolonged phase caused by this intestinal parasite infection.
Symptoms of chronic parasite infection by Giardia lamblia may include:
Yet a third to half of the people who are infected by Giardia lamblia may show no parasite symptoms or any signs of illness, even while this nasty human parasite is living in their intestines.
Young children are three times more likely to have giardiasis than adults. Experts suspect that the human body gradually develops some form of immunity to this intestinal parasite over time, but at this time the details are still unknown. One theory suggests that the parasite may be repelled or killed by consuming a certain amount of alcohol, which may account for the lower incidence of giardiasis in adults.
It is fairly common for an entire family to contract a Giardia lamblia parasite infection, where some family members experience watery diarrhea, some just experience nausea or malaise, perhaps with abdominal cramps or pains, and some experience few symptoms or none at all.
Cryptosporidiosis is an infection of the epithelial tissue in the upper digestive tract caused by a microscopic human parasite of the genus Cryptosporidium. This parasite is a type of protozoa which lives on the inner lining of the small intestine.
Cryptosporidium can sometimes cause pulmonary and tracheal cryptosporidiosis in the heart and lungs of humans, with symptoms of coughing and frequently a low-grade fever, often accompanied by severe intestinal distress.
The Cryptosporidium protozoa is a member of the Phylum Apicomplexia which includes other pathogenic parasites such as Plasmodium which causes Malaria, and Toxoplasma which causes the disease Toxoplasmosis.
The species which are the main cause of disease in humans are Cryptosporidium parvum and Cryptosporidium hominis. Some species which infect animals such as dogs and cats, C. canis and C. felis, can also infect humans, and are transmitted by contact with dog or cat feces.
After a human or animal is infected, the parasite lives in the lining of the small intestine. During its reproductive cycle it passes out with the stools in its oocyst form, which is a spore stage protected by an outer shell that allows it to survive outside the body for long periods of time. The shell also makes this protozoan oocyst very resistant to iodine and chlorine disinfectants used in municipal water supplies, swimming pools, jacuzzi spas, and hot tubs.
Less than 10 of the Cryptosporidium oocysts are sufficient to cause an infection - and theoretically even one could rather quickly multiply by cell division and soon cause an infection.
This parasite is a type of protozoa (a single-celled microscopic animal organism) and is sometimes referred to as crypto. The diarrheal disease Cryptosporidiosis is also commonly called crypto.
Cryptosporidiosis has become one of the most common causes of waterborne disease within humans in the USA. This parasite protozoa may be found in drinking water and recreational water in every region of the United States and throughout the world. U.S. surveys have indicated that 80 percent of the population has had cryptosporidiosis at some time, and about 2 percent have crypto at any given time.
Outbreaks of crypto often occur in child day care centers, and can occur in municipalities when the water supply becomes contaminated, and in public swimming pools when infected fecal matter is released into the water. Wells and cisterns can sometimes be contaminated by runoff from septic systems when there is heavy rain.
Unpasteurized apple cider and apple juice has also been the cause of a crypto outbreak. Vegetables grown in manure fertilizer can sometimes transmit cryptosporidium oocysts if not thoroughly washed before eating.
Cryptosporidium oocysts in water can be deactivated by vigorous boiling of contaminated water for at least one minute, by ultraviolet light treatments, and through ozonation. Pure Allicin extracted from garlic is also effective against Cryptosporidium.
The tiny cryptosporidium oocysts are about 3 microns in diameter (half the size of a red blood cell) and can be filtered out of drinking water by using a filter with a pore size of 1 micron or less, or one that is NSF rated for "cyst removal".
An infection by the Cryptosporidium protozoa is called cryptosporidiosis. The symptoms usually appear 2 to 10 days (or an average of 7 days) after becoming infected with this tiny parasite.
The most common symptom is watery diarrhea.
The symptoms of cryptosporidiosis include:
Symptoms of pulmonary and tracheal cryptosporidiosis in the lungs and throat of a human are:
Whenever you have diarrhea or steatorrhea you should drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration, especially if diarrhea persists for two or three days. The sudden and rapid loss of fluids excreted in diarrhea can even be life-threatening to babies on the day it occurs, so seek medical attention immediately.
Some persons infected with crypto are asymptomatic (i.e. with no apparent symptoms). The small intestine is most commonly affected, but Cryptosporidium infections can possibly affect other areas of the digestive tract or the respiratory tract.
For persons with a healthy immune system, the above symptoms usually last about one to two weeks. These symptoms may go in cycles in which you may seem to get better for a few days, then feel worse again before the illness ends.
In persons with a weakened immune system, such as those who have AIDS or are undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, a crypto infection can be serious, long-lasting, and sometimes fatal.
If the patient's CD4+ cell count is below 200 the crypto is likely to cause diarrhea and other symptoms for a long period of time. If you have a CD4+ cell count above 200 the symptoms may not last beyond 3 weeks, but you could still have the parasite in your intestine and be a carrier who could infect others.
Common causes of Cryptosporidium infections:
Do not swim in recreational water (pools, hot tubs, ponds, lakes or rivers, etc.) if you currently have cryptosporidiosis, and for at least 2 weeks after any diarrhea has ended. You could contaminate the water with Cryptosporidium contained in any fecal matter stuck to the skin or hairs around your anus - even for several weeks after your crypto symptoms have disappeared. During sexual activity, avoid any contact with fecal matter in the anal area, especially when one partner has had a crypto infection.
The microscopic, single-celled Toxoplasma gondii protozoa is a member of the Phylum Apicomplexia which includes other pathogenic parasites such as Plasmodium (which causes Malaria) and Cryptosporidium (which causes diarrhea).
An infection by the Toxoplasma gondii protozoan parasite is known as Toxoplasmosis. It is one of the most common parasitic infections in humans and other warm-blooded animals, being found in many parts of the world from Alaska to Australia.
The primary host for Toxoplasma gondii is felines such as house cats and wild cats.
Nearly one-third of the entire human population has been exposed to this nasty parasite that can sometimes infect the brain.
An estimated 16 to 40 percent of people in the United States and the United Kingdom are infected with Toxoplasma gondii. In Central and South America and in Europe, T. gondii infection is estimated to range from 50 to 80 percent.
Cats may excrete millions of Toxoplasma oocysts (the spore stage) in their feces after ingesting as few as one bradyzoite (the quiescent stage) or one tissue cyst - and many tissue cysts may be present in one infected mouse. The almost invisible oocysts measure approximately 10 by 12 micrometers. They become infectious 1 to 5 days after excretion by the infected cat.
The Toxoplasma gondii oocysts are remarkably hardy and can survive in cat feces and soil for several months, where they can be transported by insects and worms and then infect the birds and mammals that eat them - or can be carried onto vegetables that are later eaten by humans.
Only about 1 percent of cats in a population are found to be shedding oocysts at any given time, and oocysts are shed for only a short period (one to two weeks) during the life of the cat.
But Toxoplasma gondii infection is also common in many of the animals used for food, including sheep, pigs, and rabbits. An infection in humans often results from ingestion of the Toxoplasma cysts (similar to the "spore" stage of a fungus) which are found in the tissues of food animals.
Toxoplasma gondii in tissue cysts can survive in food animals for years. Toxoplasma infection in cattle and horses is less prevalent than infection in sheep or pigs.
Humans can be infected with the Toxoplasma gondii tissue cysts by eating animal meat where all parts have not been thoroughly cooked to a temperature high enough to kill the cysts (67 degrees Centrigrade). Pork and lamb should always be cooked to the medium or well-done stage, and never eaten when cooked rare or medium-rare. This warning should be heeded especially by pregnant women, to avoid infecting the unborn child.
In most healthy adult humans Toxoplasmosis is asymptomatic and does not cause serious illness, but in congenitally infected children (infected while in the mother's womb, or while passing down the birth canal) it can cause blindness and mental retardation, and several other clinical diseases. It has also been linked to schizophrenia, encephalitis, and spontaneous abortions.
Congenitally infected children may experience slightly diminished vision; while more severely diseased children may have retinochoroiditis, hydrocephalus, convulsions, and intracerebral calcification. Hydrocephalus is the least common but most dramatic disease, while the most common result of congenital toxoplasmosis is ocular disease.
Individuals who have compromised immune systems, such as those with AIDS or those taking immune-suppressant drugs after a tissue or organ transplant, are susceptible to some devastating diseases caused by the Toxoplasma gondii parasite.
Toxoplasmosis is high on the list of diseases which lead to the death of patients with Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, i.e. AIDS. In the USA, approximately 10% of AIDS patients are estimated to die from toxoplasmosis. In Europe the death rate is as high as 30%.
Toxoplasmosis mimics several other infectious diseases and is difficult to diagnose from clinical conditions alone.
The most important manifestation of toxoplasmosis in immunosuppressed patients is Encephalitis, since this can cause the most severe damage. But Toxoplasma infection may occur in any organ.
Encephalitis caused by T. gondii is now being recognized with great frequency in patients who have been treated with immunosuppressive agents after organ or tissue transplants, which results in a lowered immunity to infection by this parasite and other pathogens.
There is no vaccine to prevent toxoplasmosis in humans. It should be avoided by thoroughly cooking the meat of ANY animal to at least 67 degrees Centrigrade to kill any Toxoplasma cysts that may be present in the tissue of the food animal. Cysts can also be killed by freezing below -13 degrees Centrigrade. All surfaces which come into contact with uncooked meat should be washed with soap and water or a food-safe disinfectant.
Gloves should be worn while gardening, and all vegetables should be washed thoroughly before eating because they may have been contaminated with cat feces which carry the hardy oocyst stage of Toxoplasma gondii into the soil.
Kitty litter boxes should be cleaned frequently (but not by pregnant women or persons with lowered immune systems), and all contact with cat feces should be avoided. Prevention is enhanced by not letting pet cats roam outdoors where they can become infected with Toxoplasma cysts by eating mice, rats, other rodents, or birds - or by coming into contact with feces from other cats. Not feeding raw animal meat to pet cats also helps avoid ingestion of tissue cysts by the cat.
In some European countries, including France and Austria, the testing of all pregnant women for T. gondii infection is compulsory. The cost benefits of such mass screening are being debated in many other countries, mainly because of the huge cost of caring for sick children, especially those born with mental retardation and blindness caused by Toxoplasmosis.
Can you see how ridding your body of parasites by drinking Dr. Miller's Holy Tea for an easy, safe, and gentle herbal parasite cleanse and colon cleanse may help relieve many of the above symptoms which are caused by a colon parasite infestation or intestinal parasite infection?
The medical treatment for a worm or parasite infection may require many different worm medicines, parasite medications or pharmaceutical drugs which kill the various species of parasite. It's not easy to get rid of parasites that way.
Some people prefer to try an alternative herbal parasite remedy which cleanses their colon, rectum, and small intestine of parasites and removes the impacted fecal matter which many intestinal parasites feed upon.
A high enema or colonic irrigation treatment can help with worm removal and parasite removal, but their cleansing waters do not reach the small intestine where intestinal parasites like whipworms and Giardia live and grow.
Colonics and enemas can wash out the beneficial probiotic bacteria along with the harmful parasites and pathogenic bacteria.
You may find that when considering a home remedy for parasites or worms, just drinking Dr. Miller's Holy Tea is a simple, easy, and comfortable way to do a parasite cleansing to remove all kinds of human parasites from your intestinal tract - which can also reduce the risk of these intestinal parasites and other parasites ingested with your food entering your bloodstream, tissues and organs.
One new user of Holy Tea found that after just three days of drinking Holy Tea, a big worm (a foot-long intestinal tapeworm) passed out of her body and into the toilet.
Dr. Miller's Holy Tea, besides being a simple, safe, natural, and good-tasting herbal parasite cleanser and worm remedy, is also an effective natural remedy for a female or male yeast infection, constipation, irregularity, diarrhea, acid reflux, gas, bloating, abdominal ailments such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, skin ailments such as rashes and hives and acne, and many other conditions arising from impacted fecal matter in the colon and small intestine - and from the bacteria, yeast, fungus, worms and parasites that feed on it or hide in it.
The safe and natural herbs in Holy Tea stimulate the body to rid itself of parasites, yeast and fungus organisms, toxins, drug residues, man-made chemicals, and many things that are not natural to the human body. These are often the underlying cause of many ailments and diseases. The distributors of Dr. Miller's Holy Tea do not claim that this product is a treatment or cure for any medical condition or disease. Its purpose is to support the body in healing itself.
Holy Tea has no known side effects. However, its herbal cleansing action may inhibit the effectiveness of pharmaceutical drugs and birth control pills if the Holy Tea is ingested within 2 hours before or after the prescribed medication is administered. Holy Tea is made in the U.S.A. from pesticide-free herbs, and is contained in unbleached tea bags. Two bags produce one gallon or 16 litres of Holy Tea.
For information on buying Holy Tea contact Michael Star at 905-891-7436 (11 AM to 11 PM Eastern Time).
Click here to BUY Holy Tea on-line at USD $49.95 retail price for a one-month supply (8 bags make 4 gallons). For 1 to 12 packages of 8 bags each, S&H is $5 to USA, Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands, or S&H $9 to Canada and Mexico. We also ship to Central America, South America, the UK, Europe, Asia, India, Africa, Australia, and all other countries for S&H $11. (See Holy Tea Club info below to buy at wholesale price with free shipping, and even get your Holy Tea for free.)
For information on buying or selling Holy Tea, or becoming a Member of the Holy Tea Club, contact Michael Star at 905-891-7436 (11 AM to 11 PM Eastern Time, GMT-5).
Or connect worldwide for free by using Skype ID: michaelstar2
Click here to learn more about the Holy Tea Club and join for free as a Member with a free personal web site and the ability to earn much more than you pay for your Holy Tea, simply by ordering a 1-month supply at the wholesale price.
This article about Parasite Infections and Dr. Miller's Holy Tea is ©2008 Michael Star Co. Portions were reproduced with permission.
The text and images on this copyrighted web page may not be published on another web site or in any media without the consent of the author or copyright owner. Permission is given to copy portions of this web page for personal, non-commercial use only.
Contact: Michael Star 905-891-7436 (11 AM to 11 PM Eastern Time, GMT-5)
The content of this Holy Tea article is intended "for educational purposes only" and should not be construed as medical advice. Holy Tea is a natural food, not a drug, and this general information is not intended to provide any diagnosis, treatment or cure. If you have a medical condition, consult your personal physician or health care practitioner.
This product contains natural herbs which act as a cathartic (increases rate of waste excretion). Women who are pregnant or nursing, elderly persons, young children, and individuals suffering from any illness or health condition should consult with their personal physician prior to using this or any herbal supplement.
It is recommended that you do not drink Holy Tea within 2 hours before and after taking any prescription drugs or man-made medications (this does NOT apply to natural vitamin and mineral supplements or herbal remedies).
The Holy Tea user testimonials quoted in this article and recorded testimonies are anecdotal and may not represent typical results. Individual results will vary.
The FDA does not review health products which are sold as a dietary supplement. (Holy Tea is a natural food, not a drug.)
As required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA):
"These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease."
Disclaimer: Do not take Dr. Miller's Holy Tea as a substitute for medical treatment. Always follow the advice of your doctor or personal physician.
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