Find the Right Treatment for Parasitic Infections
Different types of parasites cause different types of infections. Three main classes of parasites cause disease in humans: ectoparasites, protozoa and helminths. Parasites don’t just stem from one thing — they can be bloodborne, foodborne, animal-borne, insect borne or waterborne.
Parasitic Infection Symptoms, Causes & Prevention
Bloodborne parasitic diseases
Parasitic diseases found or spread by the blood of infected people are labelled as bloodborne. Bloodborne diseases can be spread via a blood transfusion or by sharing contaminated needles or syringes.
Animal-borne parasitic diseases
Parasitic diseases that are passed between an animal and a human are called zoonotic diseases (although viral, bacterial and fungal diseases also fall under this category). Parasitic zoonotic diseases can bring about different symptoms, all depending on the person and the parasite. Some people with a zoonotic infection may feel very sick, while another may not have symptoms. Parasitic zoonotic infection symptoms may include diarrhea, muscle aches and fever.
To protect yourself and your family from parasitic zoonotic infections take the following steps:
- Wash your hands regularly, especially after touching animals or handling pet waste
- Take your pet to the vet regularly to ensure he or she is healthy
- Handle food properly to lower the risk of transmission from contaminated food
Foodborne parasitic diseases
Parasites can be found and transmitted in foods, like uncooked fish, crabs, meat and contaminated vegetables. Food workers with poor hygiene or those who work in dirty facilities can also contaminate food. Common food borne parasitic infections include roundworms and tapeworms. Symptoms of foodborne diseases depend on the parasite. Common symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, muscle pain, cough, skin lesions, weight loss and malnutrition.
To prevent a foodborne infection, cook food to recommended temperatures and practice good hand hygiene when handling foods.
Insect-borne parasitic diseases
Parasites that transmit sickness through insects are more common in less developed countries, where insect control is not as strong. The following are parasitic diseases that are transferred via insects: African trypanosomiasis (sleeping sickness), Babesiosis, Chagas disease, Leishmaniasis and malaria. To prevent insect-borne diseases, wear insect repellant and appropriate clothing to help cover your skin when outdoors.
Water-borne parasitic diseases
Infected, parasitic waters can cause serious illness. Contaminated water can lead to severe gastrointestinal pain, disability and sometimes even death. Breathing, swallowing or coming in contact with contaminated water in pools, lakes, hot tubs, swimming pools, the ocean, or rivers can cause infection. Diarrhea is the most common symptom if these types of parasitic infections. Proper sanitation and hygiene are essential to prevent waterborne parasitic infections. It also helps to avoid swallowing water in lakes, pools, streams or ponds.
Parasitic Infection Treatment at UPMC Susquehanna
Because not all parasitic infections are the same, it’s best to speak with your healthcare provider to determine the best course of treatment. Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics or medication to help alleviate symptoms. Because diarrhea is such a prominent side effect with a lot of parasitic infections, ensure you are drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated.
At UPMC Susquehanna, we provide comprehensive treatment for parasitic infections in central PA, to help our communities regain and maintain optimal health.