As humans, we’re vulnerable to infection by a wide variety of disease-causing agents. From bacteria to fungi, viruses, and parasites, there’s a wide range of pathogens that can make you fall ill.
Thanks to advancements in medicine, however, the majority of diseases and health problems caused by common pathogens are treatable and curable.
Human parasites are bugs that create a home in or on the human body to gain the advantage of food, shelter, and other aspects that determine their survival. While there’s a wide range of human parasites, a good number of them are pathogenic or capable of causing disease in their hosts. While you may not necessarily have studied medicine, parasitology, or microbiology like me, there are various ways to identify and learn more about a pathogenic parasite. Some may not even be visible to the naked eye, but there’s always a way to tell if a pathogenic parasite is involved in a certain health condition or situation. Here are 3 ways to learn more about a pathogenic parasite.
1. Observation and Morphology
In biology, morphology simply refers to the study of structure, form, and shape of living things. For external parasites, simply sighting one is enough to identify. And thanks to technologies such as transmission electron microscopy and imaging, even the tiniest of bugs can be clearly observed, identified, and closely studied. With this kind of technology, you can even study internal parasites like Strongyloides stercoralis, a common nematode worm that is also referred to as the threadworm. According to Dr. Jay Davidson at https://drjaydavidson.com/strongyloides/, this internal parasite gets into the host through the skin, enters the bloodstream, and finds its way into the lungs. When coughed up, the worm could end up in the gut if the host swallows the sputum. This is where it causes a myriad of health problems and if you’re lucky enough to isolate it, learning more about the pathogenic parasite becomes easier, which brings us to the next important point.
2. Lab Testing
Once inside the body, some pathogenic human parasites are extremely hard to detect. In such a case, medical practitioners and laboratory technicians use a certain set of lab procedures to identify bugs. For instance, plasmodium can be detected from a blood sample, whereas intestinal worms can be detected through a stool lab test. Other common samples used in clinical microbiology include sputum, urine, or a smear from an area of interest.
3. Signs and Symptoms of Disease
While many diseases share certain symptoms, some illnesses that are caused by pathogenic parasites have peculiar classical symptoms. For instance, Sarcoptes scabiei, the parasite that causes scabies presents itself in the form of an itchy rash on various parts of the body once it burrows into the skin. The itchy rash often occurs in areas such as between the fingers, around the waistline, in the armpits, around the genital area, buttocks, breasts, knees, and inner elbows. However, it will take an experienced medical practitioner to identify the specific parasite pathogen that is affecting you since signs and symptoms can sometimes be similar for various health conditions.
From protozoa to helminths and ectoparasites, many different pathogenic parasites can infest and infect humans. Learning more about them can help prevent their spread as well as protect vulnerable individuals. The above are just a few of the common ways used to learn more about parasite pathogens.