Barefoot Bother - The Plight Of Parasitic Pests


What are parasites?

Parasites are organisms that dwell in another organism. In order for the parasite to evolve, it must be able to live inside the other organism (or host). The word parasite is derived from the Greek word "parasitos". Roughly translated it means "alongside food". This really does sum up the intent and goal of a parasite because its only aim is survival through extracting the strength it needs from a carrying host. In other words, it uses the resources of the body it hijacked to stay alive. We've all seen the horrors of how parasites gain unwanted accesson TV programmes such as Monsters inside me. The mere thought that such a disgusting entity can get inside us is enough to send anyone running to the doctor's surgery. Generally speaking, parasites don't do any real harm and they often go undetected or ignored because they produce symptoms that are strikingly similar to other nondescript illnesses like a common cold or flu. Occasionally though, parasites are very dangerous. They can cause serious damage and even death.

Symptoms of a parasitic presence

There's a vast array of parasitic species, and they vary from country to country. Most symptoms aren't sufficiently disturbing to make someone think there's something wrong. However, the more renowned ones do have a similar set of criteria that can develop suddenly or over the course of time. Common complaints that patients present with are itchiness, sudden weight loss, unexplainable increased appetite, diarrhoea and/or vomiting, sleep disturbances, anaemia, anxiety, abnormal allergic reactions and unusual aches and pains. The most common type of parasite found in the western world is called the Endoparasite. This parasite comes in the form of common worms such as the heart worm, tape worm and flat worm which we associate mostly with domestic cats and dogs. The case presented here pertains to an infectious parasite Cutaneous larva migrans and is a good example of same.

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