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Linda Mundorff

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January 2010

Food Handling, Cooking, and Storage

 

The Top Five Parasitic Infections in the U.S.

January 2008
By Dr. Linda Mundorff, MPH,MSN,ND,RN,CNC,CTN

Parasites are microorganisms not bacteria or viruses. Unfortunately, many parasitic infections are misdiagnosed as bacterial infections and treated with antibiotics. An antibiotic will not kill a parasite. Since parasites are difficult to diagnose it’s important that accurate testing be done. For gastrointestinal parasitic infection the best indicator is a stool exam. The test itself is not painful or expensive, but does require a small sample of stool. Your doctor will send you home with a kit that includes everything you need, once you get the sample you will need to send the kit back for testing.

After the diagnosis is made and a prescription is given, a repeat stool test should be done to ensure that the parasite has been killed. It is important that you take the medication as directed for the entire time required, even if you are already feeling better.

Below are the top five parasites found in the United States:

Name How Contracted Symptoms
Blastocytosis Poor hygiene and unsanitary conditions Diarrhea, stomach pain, and gas.
Cryptosporidium Contaminated food or water Dehydration, diarrhea, stomach cramps, weight loss, fever, nausea, and vomiting.
Giardia Contaminated food or water that has been in contact with animal or human feces. Bloating, gas, diarrhea, nausea, severe cramps.
Toxoplasma Gondii From infected cat’s litter box Causes flu-like symptoms.
Trichomonas Vaginalis Genital contact Foul-smelling green-yellow vaginal discharge, vaginal swelling, itching, and redness.

The best way to stop a parasitic infection is through prevention:

  • Always practice good handwashing before preparing and eating food.
  • Drink treated water only – mountain streams and rivers might look clean but they can be harboring all kinds microorganisms that will make you very sick.
  • Clean the cat litter box daily and always wash your hands afterwards.
  • Don’t fertilize your vegetable garden with untreated manure.
  • Wash all fruits and vegetables before eating.
  • Cook your meat thoroughly.
  • If you have an open cut, cover it. Your skin is your first line of defense against microorganisms. An open cut is an invitation in.

A little prevention goes a long way!

In health and wellness,

Dr. Linda Mundorff

Disclaimer: Dr. Mundorff is a Board Certified Naturopath, and not a medical doctor. The information in this column is for educational purposes only and should not be used to self-diagnose and treat diseases. Naturopathy is a complementary practice to health care and should be used in conjunction with a competent health care practitioner. Many herbal and homeopathic remedies can actually be contraindicated in many health conditions, with certain prescriptions, and over-the-counter medications. Please consult your physician before starting any alternative modalities.