7 harmful parasites that live in your body
Mites have built a nest in your face while worms have a party in your gut. Through wounds, insect bites, and various body openings, a variety of microscopic parasites occupy your body and live of blood, dead skin cells, and even your brain.
The hair follicles in the eyebrows and lashes abound with Demodex mite larvae (blue)
Trichomoniasis is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the parasite Trichomonas vaginalis.
Your head, your intestines, and your genitals. No parts of the body escape when voracious parasites move in and party in our interior.
1. Brain-eating amoeba lurks in the bathwater
Naegleria fowleri – also called brain-eating amoeba – is one of the most feared parasites in the western world. Both children and adults have become victims of the merciless parasite, which invades the brain through your nose and causes incurable brain inflammation with fatal outcome in a matter of days.
The brain-eating amoeba is relatively common and thrives, especially in warmer freshwater and hot springs, where they can withstand temperatures of up to 50-60 ° C for several hours. At colder temperatures, they remain the cyst stage, which can withstand more cold.
2. A huge number of mites have taken your facial skin
They are microscopic, have eight legs and spiders and ticks as their closest relatives. Demodex folliculorum – also called facial mites – has successfully settled in your face, mine, and your neighbor’s face. Facial mites are usually not a serious problem. They are found in the pores and hair follicles of the facial skin, where they probably live on dead skin cells or sebum from the skin’s glands.
But the mites have no rectum and cannot release waste during their lifetime.
When the mites die, and their bodies decompose, accumulated waste substances are spread simultaneously over the skin and with them a lot of bacteria and bacterial toxins.
It can lead to severe skin irritation and inflammation – especially in people with a weak immune system.
3. Watch out with the contact lenses
Achantamöba infection is due to the single-celled parasite Acanthamoeba keratitis. The parasite is usually found in water and soil and also in cooling, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. Although the Acanthamoeba is common in nature – even in Scandinavia – it rarely happens that it manages to infect its victim.
It is especially contact lens users who should be wary of the little sponge. It can cause corneal inflammation if it is allowed to infect via damaged skin or cornea. If the cornea is completely intact, the parasite cannot penetrate.
Infection with the Acanthamoeba hurts and will lead to teary eyes, light sensitivity, and impaired vision. In the worst case, the infection can end with blindness or a corneal transplant.
4. Bloodsuckers hooks into your small intestine
The hookworms cause no less than 600 million infections worldwide each year – especially in tropical and subtropical areas.
If you travel in that part of the world, you should avoid walking barefoot in areas that may be contaminated with human feces – for example, primitive toilets. The parasite infects by rubbing through the skin of your feet and legs. From there, it continues its journey into the body.
The hookworms have sharp mouth parts that suck in with the small intestine before they begin to suck blood. The small bloodsucker can cause blood and protein deficiency as well as fluid accumulation, and it can wander around our internal organs and under the skin.
5. Cunning mask creeps out of child gums
The Enterobius vermicularis worm is the most common intestinal worm on northern latitudes. It is so common that it has been visiting the vast majority of nursery chambers.
The worm’s success has its reasons. The Enterobius has devised a particularly smart strategy to keep its life cycle going, while its human victim – usually a child – sleeps its deepest sleep.
At night, the adult worms crawl from their nest in the large intestine out of the rectum and lay eggs just outside the rectum. It annoys so much that the baby itches around the rectum opening and gets parasitic eggs on the hands and under the nails.
The eggs can then be passed on to the mouth but also to door handles, bedding, and towels so that the parasite can spread.
6. Carcinogenic parasites participate in the game
Even in our genitals, the parasites have entered. Trichomonas vaginalis is the most common sexually transmitted disease, where viruses are not involved. Almost 250 million infections are documented in one year.
The human genital organs are the only reservoir and habitat for the parasite, and its entire life cycle takes place there. The parasite is transmitted only through sexual contact and contact between genitals.
Infection with the parasite increases the risk of transmission and infection of HIV, whereas, in pregnant women, it can lead to premature birth or low birth weight. Besides, there seems to be a connection between Trichomonas infection and the risk of cervical cancer, while in men a link between chronic infection of Trichomonas and increased risk of prostate cancer.
7. Disabled parasites are close to extinction
The guinea worm lives most of its life in the gut but is known for the female worms to appear in the skin to lay eggs. In desperate attempts to get rid of the infection, the victims have tried to remove a meter-long worm, when it appears in the hole in the skin and extremely slowly roll it up on a stick.
It may take several weeks to roll up the long worm on the stick. In the meantime, there is a high risk of the worm breaking off, which can result in a serious bacterial infection and blood poisoning, which aggravates an already debilitating condition, which means that the infected can neither walk nor stand.
There is much evidence that the Guinea worm is about to be completely wiped out. The World Health Organization WHO has worked intensively since the mid-1980s to reduce the number of infections of the feared parasite. In Asia, the guinea worm has been wiped out. In 1985, there were 3.5 million cases in Africa, compared to only 22 registered cases in 2015.