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How are Parasites transmitted?

People can get parasites and worms is a lot of different ways:


Through transmitting agents such as mosquitoes, fleas and flies. In the air we breathe. Pets and farm animals are often carriers of parasites. From contaminated food. Badly cooked or uncooked foods such as beef, pork, poultry and fish. Some fruit and vegetables can also contain parasites. Poor water supplies and poor sanitation can transmit parasites. In areas where sanitation or sewer systems are lacking or badly maintained, parasites and worms can quickly multiply. Parasites can commonly be found in mud pools, stagnant ponds, streams, rivers and other small or large pools of water that has remained there for a while. Bad hygiene in toilets and other public places can also be the cause.

Most protozoa have enormous reproductive potential because they have short generation times, undergo rapid sequential development and produce large numbers of progeny by asexual or sexual processes. These characteristics are responsible for many protozoan infections rapidly causing acute disease syndromes. Parasites may multiply by asexual division (fission/splitting or internal/endogenous budding) or sexual reproduction (formation of gametes and fertilization to form zygote, or unique process of conjugation where ciliates exchange micronuclei). Protozoan developmental stages occurring within hosts generally consist of feeding trophozoites, and they may be found intracellularly (within host cells) or extracellularly (in hollow organs, body fluids or interstitial spaces between cells). While trophozoites are ideally suited to their parasitic mode of existence, they are not very resistant to external environmental conditions and do not survive long outside of their hosts. To move from host-to-host, protozoan parasites use one of four main modes of transmission: direct, faecal-oral, vector-borne and predator-prey transmission. direct faecal-oral vector-borne predator-prey

> direct transmission of trophozoites through intimate body contact, such as sexual

transmission (e.g. Trichomonas spp. flagellates causing trichomoniasis in humans and bovine infertility in cattle). > faecal-oral transmission of environmentally-resistant cyst stages passed in faeces of one host and ingested with food/water by another (e.g. Entamoeba histolytica, Giardia duodenalis and Balantidium coli all form faecal cysts which are ingested by new hosts leading to amoebic dysentery, giardiasis and balantidiasis, respectively). > vector-borne transmission of trophozoites taken up by blood-sucking arthropods (insects or arachnids) and passed to new hosts when they next feed (e.g. Trypanosoma brucei flagellates transmitted by tsetse flies to humans where they cause sleeping sickness, Plasmodium spp. haemosporidia transmitted by mosquitoes to humans where they cause malaria). > predator-prey transmission of zoites encysted within the tissues of a prey animal (e.g. herbivore) being eaten by a predator (carnivore) which subsequently sheds spores into the environment to be ingested by new prey animals (e.g. tissue cysts of the sporozoan Toxoplasma gondii being ingested by cats, and tissue cysts of the microsporan Thelohania spp. being ingested by crustaceans).

Helminths form three main life-cycle stages: eggs, larvae and adults. Adult worms infect definitive hosts (those in which sexual development occurs) whereas larval stages may be freeliving or parasitize invertebrate vectors, intermediate or paratenic hosts. Nematodes produce eggs that embryonate in utero or outside the host. The emergent larvae undergo 4 metamorphoses (moults) before they mature as adult male or female worms. Cestode eggs released from gravid segments embryonate to produce 6-hooked embryos (hexacanth oncospheres) which are ingested by intermediate hosts. The oncospheres penetrate host tissues and become metacestodes (encysted larvae). When eaten by definitive hosts, they excyst and form adult tapeworms. Trematodes have more complex life-cycles where larval stages undergo asexual amplification in snail intermediate hosts. Eggs hatch to release freeswimming miracidia which actively infect snails and multiply in sac-like sporocysts to produce numerous rediae. These stages mature to cercariae which are released from the snails and either actively infect new definitive hosts or form encysted metacercariae on aquatic vegetation which is eaten by definitive hosts. nematode cycle egg - larvae (L1-L4) adult cestode cycle trematode cycle egg - metacestode - adult egg-miracidium-sporocyst-redia-cercaria(metacercaria)-adult

Helminth eggs have tough resistant walls to protect the embryo while it develops. Mature eggs hatch to release larvae either within a host or into the external environment. The four main modes of transmission by which the larvae infect new hosts are faecal-oral, transdermal, vector-borne and predator-prey transmission: faecal-oral trasdermal vector-borne predator-prey

> faecal-oral transmission of eggs or larvae passed in the faeces of one host and ingested with food/water by another (e.g. ingestion of Trichuris eggs leads directly to gut infections in humans, while the ingestion of Ascaris eggs and Strongyloides larvae leads to a pulmonary migration phase before gut infection in humans). > transdermal transmission of infective larvae in the soil (geo-helminths) actively penetrating the skin and migrating through the tissues to the gut where adults develop and produce eggs that are voided in host faeces (e.g. larval hookworms penetrating the skin, undergoing pulmonary migration and infecting the gut where they feed on blood causing iron-deficient anaemia in humans). > vector-borne transmission of larval stages taken up by blood-sucking arthropods or undergoing amplification in aquatic molluscs (e.g. Onchocerca microfilariae ingested by blackflies and injected into new human hosts, Schistosoma eggs release miracidia to infect snails where they multiply and form cercariae which are released to infect new hosts). > predator-prey transmission of encysted larvae within prey animals (vertebrate or invertebrate) being eaten by predators where adult worms develop and produce eggs

(e.g. Dracunculus larvae in copepods ingested by humans leading to guinea worm infection, Taenia cysticerci in beef and pork being eaten by humans, Echinococcus hydatid cysts in offal being eaten by dogs).

Adult arthropods are generally small in size, most are visible but some remain microscopic. Arthropod sexes are separate and fertilization is internal. A wide range of mating behaviours, insemination and egg production strategies are involved. In most species, the egg develops into a larva: i.e. a life-cycle stage that is structurally distinct from the adult and must undergo metamorphosis (structural reorganization) before becoming an adult. This metamorphosis may be complete (involving major changes during a pupation stage) or incomplete (involving gradual changes in nymph stages). For example, the grub-like larval stages of flies and fleas form cocoon-like pupae where they undergo complete metamorphosis and emerge as radicallydifferent adult insects. In contrast, the larval instars (or nymphs) of lice, ticks and mites undergo incomplete metamorphosis through a series of moults gradually becoming more adult-like in appearance. complete metamorphosis incomplete metamorphosis

hatch

moult

hatch

hatch

moult

moult

egg----------larva----------pupa----------adult

egg----------larva----------nymph----------adult

Arthropods are involved in nearly every kind of parasitic relationship, either as parasites themselves or as hosts/vectors for other micro-organisms (including viruses, bacteria, protozoa and helminths). They are generally ectoparasitic on, or in, the skin of vertebrate hosts. Many species are haematophagous (suck blood) while others are histophagous (tissue-feeders) and bite or burrow in dermal tissues causing trauma, inflammation and hypersensitivity reactions. Infestations are transmitted from host-to-host either by direct contact or by free-living larvae or adults actively seeking hosts. direct host-seeking (larva or adult parasitic) host-seeking (all feeding stages parasitic)

> Direct transmission of infective stages occurs when hosts come into close contact with each other or share quarters, bedding or clothing. Larvae, nymphs or adults may cross from one host to another, while eggs or pupae may contaminate shared environments. Insects (fleas and lice) and arachnids (mites) rely on close contact between hosts. > Many adult insects actively seek hosts in order to feed or lay eggs. Winged insects (mosquitoes, flies) fly to new hosts to feed while fleas jump onto passing hosts. Some adult flies (botflies) do not feed on their hosts but deposit eggs from which larvae emerge and feed on host tissues and exudates. > Tick larvae actively seek hosts by climbing vegetation and questing for passing hosts. Some species complete their life-cycle on the same host (one-host ticks) while others detach after feeding and drop to the ground to moult before seeking new hosts as nymphs or adults (two-host or three-host ticks).