Parasites

What are parasites?

Parasites are responsible for a significant percentage of human disease. Usually unsanitary conditions allow the parasite to develop. We associate this with developing countries, but a lack of water treatment plants, improper sewage disposal and a general lack of hygienic measures predispose to the inadvertent spread of parasites anywhere.

Types of common parasites include:

Amebiasis – can be asymptomatic, can be moderately symptomatic with bloody diarrhea, but it can also be a severe illness. In this latter case, the amebiasis can spread via the portal vein system into the liver, where it can produce liver abscesses. From there it can spread further through the blood stream into lungs, brain or other vital organs. The abscess can also rupture into the right abdominal cavity or the right chest cavity. By that time the patient is very sick. However, it is exceedingly difficult to diagnose this condition, which would involve CT scans, ultrasounds and special immunoassays. Treatment consists of drugs like metronidazole (Flagyl, Metric 21), emetine or dehydroemetine in combination with chloroquine. The gastroenterologist likely will know of newer agents that can be utilized for this serious condition. When treatment is finished there should be follow-up stool examinations at 1, 3 and 6 months to ensure that treatment was effective

Cryptosporidiosis – In many patients with a normal immune system this form of gastroenteritis with cryptosporidium parvum is self limiting. However, in AIDS patients and in immunocompromised patients because of chemotherapy or because of immunosuppressive medication for organ transplants this form of gastroenteritis could become a major problem with frequent and large watery bowel movements. Paromomycin (Humatin) seems to be the most successful antibiotic for this. At least in some AIDS patients antiretroviral therapy seems to also control the symptoms of cryptosporidiosis.

Cyclosporiasis and isosporiasis – can be a cause for gastroenteritis especially for AIDS patients who can have problems with ongoing gastroenteritis involving these parasites, whereas people with a normal NFL Jerseys Cheap immune system have no or very little symptoms. Sulfamethoxazole/ trimethoprim (Bactrim, Sulfatrim, Septra) is effective for both of theses parasites.

Gardiasis – can colonize the intestinal tract and either cause flatulence, malabsorption wholesale football jerseys or watery diarrhea. Treatment for it is metronidazole (Flagyl, Metric 21).

Hookworm infestation – About 25% of the world population is infected with the hookworm. Colicky abdominal pain, flatulence and diarrhea are found in these patients. Weight loss, an iron deficiency anemia and an allergic white blood cell picture (eosinophilia) are other features. Treatment consists of mebendazole (Vermox) for three days.

Intestinal parasites – acquired during travel to a destination with poor hygiene practices.

Leishmaniasis – This parasite is distributed worldwide and is transmitted to humans by sandflies from animals like rodents, canines and anteaters. There are different species of Leishmania that have different body part preferences such as internal organs, skin or the nasopharynx. There are a number of tests available for diagnosis including the leishmanin skin test (Montenegro test). Other tests involve blood cultures, cultures of spleen, and liver or bone marrow aspirates. The treatment of this condition involves antibiotics given through intravenous.

Malaria – There are five different types of this parasite that is transmitted through mosquitoes. Signs and symptoms begin to occur only two to three weeks after the patient is bitten. They experience backaches, headaches and fevers. After only a short period of time patients experience distress with lung function (respiratory distress), bleeding into the retina (possible blindness), kidney failure and often the development of malaria in the brain (cerebral malaria). This is particularly dangerous as the patient often gets into shock and coma, which is often fatal. Some strains of the parasite do not cause vital organ breakdown or any symptoms. Treatment may be administered using oral medication.

Microsporidiosis – can cause severe diarrhea in immunocompromised patients such as AIDS patients or cancer patients on chemotherapy. It can migrate from the bowel wall to the liver and produce hepatitis, also cause infection of the abdominal cavity (peritonitis) and infection of the bile ducts (cholangitis). Other frequently infected organs can be the muscles (myositis), kidneys, gallbladder, sinuses and the outer eye (keratoconjunctivitis). None of the treatments are curative, but albendazole has been reported to have a partial controlling effect and fumagillin eyedrops and fluconazole or itraconazole have been somewhat successful for the eye involvement.

Schistosomiasis – a form of blood fluke that multiplies in the intestine, then migrates through the blood stream to the liver and into the genitourinary tract. In travelers who have never been exposed to schistosomiasis the reaction is more acute than in someone who previously was exposed to this disease and has partial immunity. Patients may experience a sudden fever and chills, feel unwell and Fake Oakleys experience muscle ache. Abdominal pain and nausea are common and allergic skin rashes as well. Some of these patients will develop a heart attack in the right heart chamber, although normally heart attacks occur in the left heart chamber. Ulcerations in the bladder wall develop, which cause blood in the urine, painful and frequent urination and often superinfection with bacteria. Chronic granulation tissue in the ulcerations leads to a chronic cystitis (bladder inflammation) and to stricture development in the ureters. Diagnosis is done by examining urine and feces for eggs. Ultrasonography and MRI scans can be useful to check state of the liver, bladder, ureters and intestinal wall. Treatment involves praziquantel (brand name : Biltricide).

Tape worms – can be beef, fish, or pork tapeworms. All forms exist in the small intestine of humans. Can also lead to hydatif and alveolar hydatid disease which occurs in the liver and other organs. They are usually living in the hosts gut and they have three parts to their anatomy: a head (scolex), a neck and the segments (proglottids). The head has a suction device or a hook with which it attaches to the inside of the gut. Tape worms can cause unexplained weight loss, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. Stool samples are commonly used for diagnosis. Tape worms are typically treated with oral medication.

Toxoplasmosis – usually transmitted through the cat who is a healthy carrier of this disease. Infection occurs through contact with cat litter, which remains infectious for 1 year in moist soil. The oocysts from the cat feces are either swallowed unknowingly or people are eating undercooked meat of pork, beef or lamb with tissue cysts. Acute toxoplasmosis can present similar to infectious mononucleosis with a fever, lymph gland swelling in the neck region, sore throat, muscle pains and an enlarged liver, as well as an enlarged spleen. More often though toxoplasmosis is without symptoms or only non specific lymph gland swelling. At the other end of the spectrum there is occasionally a severe disseminated form, which brings the patient to the hospital and where severe lung symptoms (a pneumonia like condition), a myocarditis (heart muscle infection), brain infection, muscle infection (polymyositis), skin rash and fever and chills are present. A physician will use blood tests to make a diagnosis. Treatment for toxoplasmosis is complex and should be in the hands of an infection specialist.

Trypanosomiasis – This parasite can occur in two forms and is transmitted by bug bite and enters the blood stream and eventually the heart and other organs. Infection causes a skin lesion, intermittent fever, headaches and painful muscles. It can also cause a skin rash, persistent headache, a change in personality, daytime tiredness, muscle tremor, gait problems and finally a coma. It can be diagnosed using a blood smear test and treated using various treatment modalities including a heart transplant.

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