19 Parasites Facts: The Truth About These Intrusive Organisms

Parasites are believed to be our Earth’s most common life form. These makeup over 80% of living things.

The term parasite originated from the Greek word “parasites,” meaning ‘beside the food.’ Parasites can be the tiniest and most unnoticeable beings on Earth to the main cause of many ailments that can be really dangerous.

These lives exist on or in a specific host from whom they can get food. So, in this article, we will talk about some amazing facts about these unique inhabitants of our ecosystem, called parasites.

Interesting Parasites Facts:

👉 The first reported parasite disease

First Parasite Disease

According to Egyptian records from which, Hippocrates, the Greek physician, later described the infections to be induced by parasites.

Chinese and Arab physicians expressed similar findings as well. The first reported parasite-induced ailment date to about 3000-2500 BC.

Also, the earliest mite fossil recorded could be traced to about 400 million years ago.

Moreover, Dutchman Anton van Leeuwenhoek was the first human being to observe microscopic parasites. In 1681, he examined his feces and discovered a parasite called Giardia lamblia.

👉 Parasitism is a type of relation

Parasitism is a specific type of consumer-resource relation. However, parasites are much smaller than their hosts, often living on the host’s body but not killing them.

Most parasites can reproduce at a great speed and a lot faster rate than their hosts. However, they reduce the fitness of their hosts by specialized or general pathology.

Parasitism is a specific kind of symbiosis, a persistent and close long-term biological interaction between the host and its parasite.

Though some parasites feed on living hosts, some even continue to feed on hosts they have killed.

👉 The earliest determined parasite in humans is the lung fluke

The Lung Fluke Parasite

Fossilized feces recovered about 5900 BC from northern Chile showed indications of the organisms.

Moreover, the mummies from the ancient Egypt of about 2000 BC showed they carried tapeworm eggs.

The oldest flea, discovered 200 million years ago, shows little to no difference from today’s fleas.

There are more than 2380 species around the world. Fleas can jump up to 104 times their body length in the human body, which is close to 13 inches.

👉 Mosquitos serve as hosts to parasites

Mosquitos are one of the well-known hosts of parasites. These parasites are transmitted through diseases such as yellow fever, dengue fever, encephalitis or the inflammation of the brain, and malaria.

Despite their small sizes, mosquitos carrying parasites are responsible for numerous human deaths that may exceed the deaths caused by other creatures.

According to scientists, the earliest mosquito was identified 144 million years ago. Also, more than 2700 insect species fly everywhere in the world, among 150 dwell in the U.S. 

👉 Tapeworms are eyeless parasites

Tapeworms Are Eyeless Parasites

Tapeworms do not have eyes; instead, on each side of their heads, they have indentations that work as suction cups attached to a victim’s intestines. These tapeworms can affect about 175 million people around the world.

Also, it is not possible to doom a tapeworm to starvation. You can try eating garlic and onion because they don’t like them.

However, the best option is to use drugs recommended by doctors. Actually, it is vital to destroy the ‘scolex’ or head and the neck; otherwise, it will only grow back.

👉 Helminths are invertebrates with tube-like bodies

Aside from being known as worms, helminths also have a particular bodily bilateral symmetry. These parasites are triploblastic, meaning they have ecto, endo, and mesodermal tissues.

However, flatworms do not have body cavities, while roundworms are mainly segmented annelids, such as earthworms have body cavities enclosed in the mesoderm.

👉 Protozoa parasites are believed to have some of the deadliest effects on humans

Protozoa Parasites

The unicellular parasites, known as protozoa, befell more misery and death upon humans than any other beings in an extensive history of wars and famine.

The most common name among these parasites is the plasmodium, which is the actual reason behind the diseasemalaria.

The invention of the machine microscope paved the way for discovering various types of parasites. Doctors back then would have no idea how these tiny creatures caused so many diseases today without this device.

👉 Parasites can affect an organ 

The physical trauma that parasite infections like worms might cause you may result in the breaking of or perforation of your circulatory system, such as the lungs, the intestines, or even the liver. In the worst situations, it can even affect the entire body.

Some parasites can even work like an intellectual alien invaders that may perform various things in the body upon entry.

They can even fool the bodies of hosts that they are natural parts of an organ or tissue. In that case, the immune system would not try to fight off the intruders.

👉 Worms can enter your body in many ways

Worms Enters The Body

Parasites like worms can enter your body through food and water consumption, through various transmission agents, like mosquitos, or even into the skin and nose or through various sexual activities.

Parasites can lump together in balls and eventually cause bigger problems for the host’s body. Not only can parasites erode, block, or damage certain organs, but they can even appear as cancer tumors.  What even is worse is that they can enter the heart, lungs, or even the brain.

👉 Parasites can secrete toxic waste, which can be dangerous to humans

Parasites secrete toxic waste or metabolic waste products called ‘verminous intoxication.’ Due to this, most of the vitamin content of your body stresses the disposal of toxins because of their reabsorption through the intestines. 

This struggle eventually makes the host’s body work harder than ever, only to be able to drive out the toxic and dangerous waste products.

👉 Parasites can cause harm to your digestion

Parasites Harm Digestion

Parasites can harm your digestion when they strip you of minerals, vitamins, and amino acids important for your proper digestion procedure. In some situations, these parasites can make their hosts anemic and drowsy after meals.

The largest recorded human parasite was a tapeworm that was 37 feet in length. This tapeworm was plucked by doctors from the mouth of Sally Mae Wallace on 5th September 2001.

👉 Parasites can live on their fellow parasites

Some types of parasites can also host their own parasites. Scientists call this relationship ‘hyperparasites.’

Whether an animal or plant is dead or alive, fungi can feed off it. Moreover, fungi may cause some disturbing infections in human beings as well. Some of these are athlete’s foot, the jock itch, and ringworm.

👉 Leeches are parasites that can consume a lot of blood

Leeches Are Parasites

The saliva of leeches contains a specific chemical that can numb its victim from its bite. Another chemical element may expand the blood vessels surrounding the wound, resulting in more blood flow.

Lastly, leech saliva can release hirudin which prevents blood from coagulating. Though a full leech could be dropped off easily, the release of hirudin will keep oozing blood even until 24 hours.

Leeches are parasites with 650 different species, and all depend on other creatures to live.

👉 Parasite Toxoplasma gondii can be found in cats

Parasite Toxoplasma Gondii Found In Cats

Parasite Toxoplasma gondii is a protozoan that stimulates toxoplasmosis, which can induce brain damage in a human fetus. Thus, though these parasites can be found in cats, they can cause harm to humans. 

Recently, the disease caused by this parasite was also linked to OCD, ADD, schizophrenia, and suicidal tendencies among human beings.

However, infection of Toxoplasma gondii in rats makes them their inherent fear of the feline species. According to a study, it was showed that infected rats could feel sexually attracted to the scent of cat urine.

👉 Parasites may live in human eyes

A parasitic worm called ‘Loa loa’ or eye worm resides in the eyes of various mammals, including humans.

Patients with this specific condition can sense the movement of this eye worm in their eyes. A big-sized eye worm can even be seen by its host. This creepy worm can survive inside a human body for about 17 years.

👉 Types of parasites

Types Of Parasites

There are various types of parasites, including ectoparasites, which live on the surface of the host’s body, and endoparasites, which mainly live inside the body of the host. Other types of parasites include helminths or worms, protozoa, and arthropods.

These creatures can be transmitted in different ways, such as through the consumption of infected water or food, contact with contaminated soil or water, and even contact with infected animals.

👉 Parasites in water

Freshwater ecosystems are even home to various parasites, including the parasitic worm, which may infect snails and cause disease in humans who come into contact with that infected water.

Moreover, parasites can be seen even in marine ecosystems. Some of those include parasitic isopod, which infects crustaceans, and sea lice, which can infect salmon and other fishes.

👉 Some parasites can dwell in the host’s brain

Parasites Dwell In The Brain

The parasite, known as Naegleria fowleri ameba, is a possible reason for vomiting, stiff neck, brain inflammation, seizures, hallucinations, and extensive destruction of brain tissue.

The symptoms are just the beginning of a rapid death within 3-7 days.

👉 A parasite causes the disease malaria

One of the deadliest diseases to humankind, called malaria, is caused by the parasite plasmodium. Malaria is an Italian term known as ‘bad air’ with a kill rate of 1.5 to 2.7 million humans annually worldwide.

Hence, parasites are a fascinating and diverse group of organisms that play diverse ecosystem roles.

At the end of this article, we learned about 19 really amazing facts about this unique creature called parasites. These facts offer us a clear picture of this interesting creature of our ecosystem. To know more, you may visit our website.

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