A parasite is an organism that lives on or in a host organism and gets its food from or at the expense of its host. When parasites grow, reproduce, or invade organ systems it results in a parasitic infection in the host.
Common parasites that invade humans
Jiggers also known as chigoe flea or Tunga are small parasitic fleas that feeds by burrowing into the skin of its host mainly under the toenails and fingernails. They mainly occur due to poor personal hygiene.
During the first day or two of infestation, you may feel an itching or irritation which then passes as the area around the flea calluses and becomes insensitive.
Sometimes it causes severe inflammation and ulceration. If the female flea dies in the skin, it may cause a secondary infection which, if untreated, could lead to tetanus, gangrene and even loss of a toe.
Lice are tiny, wingless, parasitic insects that feed on your blood. They can be spread through shared items (including beddings, combs, towels etc.) head to head (for head lice) or sexual contact (for pubic lice)
There are three types of lice:
- Head lice
These lice are found on your scalp. They’re easiest to see at the nape of your neck and over your ears.
- Body lice
These lice live in clothing and on bedding and move onto your skin to feed. Body lice most often affect people who aren’t able to bathe or wash their clothing regularly, such as homeless people
- Pubic lice
Commonly called crabs, these lice occur on the skin and hair of your pubic area and, less frequently, on coarse body hair, such as chest hair, eyebrows or eyelashes.
Bedbugs are reddish brown parasites that are roughly the size of an apple seed. They hide in beds and survive by biting on people to feed on their blood mainly at night.
Their bites can result in a number of health effects including skin rashes, psychological effects and allergic symptoms. Infestation is rarely due to a lack of hygiene but is more common in high-density areas.
Several types of worm can cause problems in humans, including threadworms (pinworms), roundworms, tapeworms, whipworms and hookworms. Since worms harbor bacteria, they can cause diseases such as E. coli and salmonella.
Symptoms of worms include abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, itching in the anus etc
Worms can invade any part of your body including the digestive system, eyes or brain, muscle tissue etc.
Ticks are small spiderlike parasites that bite to fasten themselves onto the skin of animals or humans and feed on blood. Ticks prefer warm, moist areas of the body like armpits, groin, or hair. Some ticks carry diseases such as Lyme disease.
Scabies is not an infection, but an infestation caused by tiny parasites called mites called Sarcoptes scabiei. They burrow into your skin causing intense itching and rashes in the area where the mites burrow.
Scabies is contagious and can spread very easily from person to person through close physical contact. In addition but in rare cases, the sharing of clothing or bedding with an infected person can spread the mites.
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