This is part four of a multipart series on the World’s most devastating parasitic diseases. This article deals with three human parasites,which can be crawling over you right now.
Crab Lice – Pthirus pubis
Crab lice are perhaps the least harmful but most dreaded of human lice. That is because they pass on no additional complications, as many other lice do. They are feared because they are usually passed from person to person by sexual contact and are therefore considered a form of venereal disease. Unlike some form of STDs a person may get a case of crabs by non-sexual contact. Sleeping in an infested bed, using contaminated towels, even non-sexual close contact such as certain sports can theoretically be the cause of an outbreak in another individual.
Crab lice once contracted are fairly easy to detect. Beside there being a persistent itch in the pubis, they are also quite visible to most people who look at themselves as they are about 3 millimeters long and tend to move around in the hairy areas of the genitalia. In fact many people believe the fastest treatment is to shave that area.
In reality the treatment for these nefarious critters is to go to the nearest drug store and buy as good anti-lice shampoo. A second application after a week will kill any eggs (called nits) that survived to produce another generation of crab lice. Along with a good shampooing, all bedding and clothes should be thoroughly washed and the bed itself sprayed with a gentle but effective louse killing insecticide.
While no one wants to come down with a case of crab lice, their main damage to humans is a painful blow to the self esteem rather than physical debility.
Head Lice – Pediculus humanus
Got kids? If so they may come home from school one day with a note from the school nurse. Human head lice love your children almost as much as you do, albeit for different reasons. Children have lots of fine hair and tend to come into contact with dozens of other children each day at school or at play. They come into close contact with each other. Children are less aware that using someone else’s comb is not a good thing to do. While head lice do not have the extreme negative stigma of crab lice, they are still a bug no parent wants living off their child’s blood.
Head lice can also cross over to adults via contact with the children or in situations where hygiene is not always practical. Lice used to be a major problem in the military especially in times of combat. In the World Wars soldiers were regularly dusted with DDT to kill lice. These days DDT is not used but other less harmful insecticides can eliminate the vermin. Prisons are also a hotbed of lice parasites.
Lyme Disease – Deer Tick
The deer tick carries a parasite of its own, a spirochete bacteria whose scientific name is Borrelia burgdorferi. When the tick bites a human the bacteria are set loose in the blood stream of the victim and a small target shape rash develops at the site of the bite. The mark fades but the bacteria spread throughout the body. Later symptoms are similar to the flu but from then on the presentation of the disease is unpredictable. Often the disease is warded off by the body’s immune system and the individual is disease free.
A second presentation is a disabling disease that could end in death or near total disability.
This more profound presentation leads to symptoms of arthritis, cardiac malfunction and even neurological disorders. Diagnosis is difficult and often incorrect. When it is correctly made a long regimen of antibiotics may work to rid the body of the infection.