15 Ridiculous Parasites That Could Actually Kill You

There have been plenty of creepy movies and television shows about parasites and their dangers. But, most of them tend to make the idea of parasites seem like something only found in horror movies. But, the truth is; there are many parasites that affect humans, and some can be deadly. Let’s look at 15 common parasites, and how they can be more dangerous than you might think. Some of them can even kill you.

  1. Giardia Lamblia: This parasite is common in humans and in many animals, including dogs. It is spread through contaminated water and through fecal matter. The parasite lives in the intestines, where it attaches itself to the intestinal tract. It causes diarrhea, malaise, gas, nausea and vomiting. Giardia itself is not deadly. However, those who go for long periods without treatment may suffer from malnutrition and a compromised immune system.
  2. Cryptosporidium: This is another gastrointestinal parasite that is typically spread through contaminated water. It causes diarrhea, and is one of the most commonly spread waterborne diseases. It can be fatal for AIDS patients or others with a compromised immune system.
  3. Entamoeba Histolytica: Another parasite that infects the gastrointestinal tract; this parasite can lead to disentary and liver abcess, which can be fatal if untreated. It is spread through unsanitary conditions, including unsafe sex practices. Next to malaria, it is the leading cause of death by protozoa.
  4. Roundworms: Roundworms are a very common parasitic infection. The worms are usually ingested through the soil, but sometimes through fruits and vegetables. Some forms can even be ingested via contact with the skin. Different varieties of roundworms cause different sorts of illnesses. Some diseases caused by roundworms are not serious, but some can be deadly.
  5. Tapeworms: Tapeworms are spread by infected fleas, which is why they are common in dogs, but rare in humans. But, humans can get them, and there are other ways they can be spread. Once in the intestinal tract, they grow quite large. Tapeworm infection causes many of the same symptoms of other parasitic infections, including diarrhea, and other stomach troubles. It is only serious to those who are immune compromised, since it may affect your body’s ability to absorb the nutrients in your food, which can further suppress your immune system.
  6. Trypanosomiasis : The disease caused by this parasite is commonly known as sleeping sickness, and it is most common in Africa. It is spread by tsetse flies and can be deadly. It is called sleeping sickness because it disrupts the sleeping cycle.
  7. Chagas Disease: Another deadly disease, common in Latin America, Chagas disease is spread by “assassin bugs” that thrive in close living quarters and ramshackle housing. It causes heart and brain damage.
  8. Leishmaniasis: This parasite is carried by sand fleas, and is common in the Middle East. It leads to serious sores that can be disfiguring.
  9. Toxoplasma: Toxoplasmosis can be a serious illness, but it usually only affects those with weakened immune systems. However, new research has shown that it can be deadly in AIDS patients, causing dementia and death. It can also cause birth defects in some cases, which is why women are advised not to clean a cat litter box during pregnancy. Toxoplasmosis is most often carried by feces.
  10. Pork Tapeworm: This is one of two parasites that can affect the brain. The pork tapeworm causes neurocysticercosis, which is a brain infection, and the leading cause of seizures. It can form lesions and can block the flow of brain fluid. Over time, the blockage of brain fluid can lead to permanent brain damage.
  11. Amoeba: This is the second parasite that affects the brain. It is very rare. It causes primary amoebic meningo-cephalitis. It has affected just 175 people in the world, but of these, only six have survived. It is spread through contaminated water.
  12. Malaria: Many people don’t realize that malaria is caused by a parasite. It is a protozoa and is spread by mosquitoes. Malaria is treatable, but can be deadly when treatment is not available or is delayed too long. There are different types of malaria, and each requires a different drug for treatment.
  13. Scabies: Scabies is a skin parasite. It comes from a tiny mite, and causes severe itching and infections. It is most often spread through crowded living conditions. The mites cause severe rashes and itching. People with compromised immune systems may get Norwegian scabies, which is more severe.
  14. Bedbugs: Bedbugs have become a serious problem in apartments and hotels in recent years. They are called bedbugs because they often live in mattresses and bed frames. They are difficult to kill and cause severe itching and sometimes skin infections.
  15. Mites: Mites are typically parasites found on animals, and there are many different kinds. However, when mites cannot find a normal host, they will infect humans, causing rashes and irritation.
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