19 Disturbing Parasites That Could Be Inside You Right Now

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If you ever have trouble falling asleep at night, we’re here to offer you a disturbingly satisfying alternative to counting sheep, which can get so tedious after awhile.

Stop obsessing over that never-ending to-do list that haunts you each night. Instead, while you lie awake in bed, try counting these seriously disgusting parasites that make humans their hosts.

You may not be drifting off to sleep any sooner, or at all, for that matter. But you’re sure to have some seriously cringe-worthy material to keep your inevitable insomnia interesting.

These 19 disturbing parasites are sure to haunt you well into the wee hours of the morning and even into your long-awaited nightmares.

What can we say? We’re just here to help.

1) Filarial Worm

These gross worms are spread when infected black flies and mosquitos bite humans. The tiny worms are transmitted from the mosquito into the skin, where they begin to make their way toward the lymphatic system. Once matured and settled in our bodies, an adult worm can live 5–7 years. While most people who contract filarial worms never develop symptoms, the parasites damage the lymphatic system and some people develop lymphedema. The result is a collection of fluid leading to body swelling that affects the legs, arms, breasts, and even the genitals. Decreased function in the body can make one highly susceptible to bacterial infections, which can cause “Elephantiasis,” or a hardening and thickening of the skin. Although, it can be years before symptoms manifest. People infected with adult worms can take a dose of diethylcarbamazine (DEC) once a year for the rest of their lives to kill the microscopic worms in their blood, but the medication does not kill all of the adult worms in the body. It merely prevents infected people from giving the disease to others. So yeah, not so comforting to those who’ve already contracted filariasis. Now feels like a pretty great time to make sure that your dog is up to date on his heartworm meds, right?

2) Raccoon Roundworm

Baylisascaris is an infection that is contracted when one accidentally eats roundworm eggs that have been contaminated with raccoon droppings. People can be infected if they unknowingly ingest dirt or anything that the droppings have contaminated. This parasite can leave you blind, paralyzed, and maybe even dead if it makes its way to your brain. Note to self: Stop letting the kids eat dirt.

3) Cochliomyia Hominivorax

 In certain tropical and subtropical areas, flies, ticks, and mosquitoes spread fly larva to humans through a few different and disgusting ways, causing an infection known as myiasis.
open wound, planting eggs in your dead tissue.
Central America, South America, Africa, and the Caribbean Islands,

4) Toxoplasma gondii

Toxoplasma gondii is the leading cause of death caused by foodborne illness in the US. According to the CDC, “More than 30 million men, women, and children in the US carry the Toxoplasma parasite, but very few have symptoms because the immune system usually keeps the parasite from causing illness.” If you’ve ever been prego, then you probably know about this nasty parasite. It’s the reason you shouldn’t come in to contact with cat litter while expecting, as this parasite most severely affects those with compromised immune systems. There is only one upside to the Toxoplasma parasite… Pregnant ladies, you officially have 10 months off cat litter duty. Take full advantage.

5) The Guinea Worm

Formally known as the Dracunculiasis, the Guinea worm is a microscopic larva carried by small water fleas. It makes its way to your tummy via contaminated drinking water or a not-so-refreshing swim, finds a comfy spot, and crashes for the next year and a half or so. During this time the Guinea worm will grow 2-3 feet, or, for a more frightening example, to the height of a toddler. When the worm has grown so large that a human belly is no longer a hospitable environment, it decides to bail. Burrowing upward, the worm makes its way to the skin’s surface, creating a blister that causes intense burning. Apparently, the sneaky little snake is actually trying to get you to cool the burning sensation by submerging the painful area in water. Its plan? To make a run for it and spread its larvae into a new body of water.. and start the process all over again. So, to rid oneself of the Guinea worm, it’s recommended that one soak the blistered area in water, and sure enough, the disgusting bugger will pop his slimy head out, exit the body, and immediately release a “foul, milky brew into the water.” The ‘milk’ contains hundreds of thousands more larva, which are then potentially ingested yet again by another very unfortunate human, dog, cat, wolf, coyote, jackal, fox, ferret, bear, or sea lion. Foul, milky, brew. These three words will now haunt me until the ends of my days. This next parasite may join you on a mid-morning hike with your bestie before brunch this weekend…

6) Chiggers

Known as “the burrowing flea,” chiggers prefer to reside in coastal and country regions and enjoy sandy beaches and rustic farmlands, where they infect humans, pigs, dogs, cats, cattle, sheep, horses, mules, rats, mice, and other wild animals. The super tiny suckers creep into your pant cuffs or socks and make their way toward some soft or wrinkly skin, like your feet. But chiggers don’t burrow into the skin as it is so commonly thought… Pregnant female fleas attach themselves to your skin by digging their fangs deep into your skin. They even inject you with skin numbing agents so that they can nestle into your epidermis and relax undisturbed while they feast on your blood. As soon as the chiggers are burrowed into your skin and super comfy in your upper dermis, they drink your blood. Yet their abdomens reside at your skin’s surface, forming an airway for it to breathe through. In other words, it sticks its ass out of your skin so it can breathe and then proceeds to provide you with two-inch welts that make you itchy AF for up to two weeks then bails without offering so much as a ‘thanks for lunch.’ Rude. And if you’re a human who drinks water, here’s yet another worm you might want to know about…

7) Brain-Eating Amoeba

This deadly amoeba makes the human brain their cozy home where they can feed and reproduce in comfort. The amoeba enter the body through the nose, infecting people swimming in freshwater lakes or rivers and even dirty swimming pools. The brain-eating amoeba evades your immune system by forming a cyst around itself, preventing white blood cells from destroying the parasite. To the contrary, the more your body fights the amoeba, the more it destroys your body. Symptoms include headache, fever, seizures, stiff neck, and vomiting. Basically, the brain-eating amoeba is bad news. And it’s found in over 70% of U.S. lakes.” According to the CDC, “there were 143 known U.S. infections from 1962 to 2016. 139 of them were fatal.” So, yeah. There’s another great excuse to pass on that camping trip this summer.

8) Pork Tapeworm

We hope you don’t enjoy that side of bacon with breakfast too much because you’re probably not going to want to eat it for the next few LIFETIMES. The pork tapeworm invites itself into your brain via two specific avenues… Pork and poop. And as if that’s not nasty enough, it then creates cysts throughout your body and, yes, even in your brain. According to Animal Planet, the pork tapeworm can grow to be several feet long and is “virtually impossible to kill.” But it could quite possibly end up killing you. Anyone else passing on the pork chops for a while?

10) Loa loa Worms

Also known as the  African Eye Worm, Loa loa is spread when humans are bitten by deer fly. The worms crawl under your skin, enter the bloodstream, and infiltrate the lungs. But the disgusting bastards can go undetected for years until one day your plucking your eyebrows and see a tiny worm swim across your eyeball. I honestly do not know what I’d do. Although ripping my eyeballs out would be a distinct possibility. The African eye worm dwells in the fat layer of the skin where it can survive 10 to 15 years, eventually causing inflammation. But, apparently, it’s not enough for the Loa loa to make you her host. Nope, she dumps her kids on you, too. Actually, she dumps them in you… and then expects you to entertain them for the next few decades. According to Stanford University, they can potentially stay with you for a good 17 years. 17 seconds is too long for worms to be swimming in your eyeballs, but 17 years, nope. I’m out. It’s been real. While there is medication to treat Loa loa worms, there’s a catch. Unfortunately, in Africa, where the Loa loa worm is prevalent, so is a specific type of ringworm that causes river blindness. The major bummer is that if you have both of these parasites and take the medication for African eye worms, it can kill you. So yeah, talk about being shit outta luck.

9) Trichomonas vaginalis

Trichomonas is a sexually transmitted parasitic infection caused by Trichomonas vaginalis, a parasite infecting more than 7 million people occur each year in the United States. More commonly known as ‘trich,’ the parasite lives in the urethra and typically causes mild or no symptoms in men. Yet most women are symptomatic, of course, and experience vaginal itching, gross discharge, not to mention, feel the need to pee constantly. Oh yay, one more thing that’s harder for women than it is for men. After this learning about this next parasite, I’m sending my kids to preschool in hazmat suits.

11) Scabies

Also known as the “human itch mite,” scabies mites burrow into the skin to live and lay their eggs. They cause intense itching that is accompanied by a skin rash. The parasite is spread through skin-to-skin contact and it does so rapidly. According to the CDC, scabies is commonly found in “nursing homes, extended-care facilities, and prisons… Child care facilities also are a common site of scabies infestations.” Excuse me while I steam clean my entire house.

12) Giardia lamblia

Giardia lamblia is a parasite that lives in the human intestine and also in the intestines of dogs, cats, cattle, and deer. It’s the second-most common parasitic infection in America, causing diarrhea, gas, extra gross bowel movements, abdominal cramping, and stomach ache. It is spread when one ingests contaminated water or food, or even when one merely comes into contact with contaminated surfaces. The parasite is found all over the world and infects its host for six to eight weeks. Apparently, the little bastards don’t like milk, because it can leave you with an intolerance to lactose long after its flown the coop.

13) Whipworm

Also known as Trichuris trichiuram, this whip-shaped parasite is spread through contaminated soil, water, and fruits and vegetables. The worms make their way to your large intestine, where they set up shop to reproduce and lay their eggs. According to the CDC, female whipworms lay between 3,000 and 20,000 eggs per day. Then their babies have babies… and their babies have babies…

14) Plasmodium

You may not have heard of Plasmodium but you’ve probably heard about the damage it can do. Heard of malaria? Yes? Then you know the Plasmodium parasite better than you realized. Plasmodium is a parasite with 200 different types of species, five of which regularly infect humans. Spread by mosquitos, it also infects birds, reptiles, rodents, and primates. Certain speicies can be found in tropical and subtropical areas, while others are more prevalent in Asia, Latin America, Africa and islands of the western Pacific. And oh yeah, and worldwide. Listen to Kristen Bell talk about the worms in her butt on the next page…

15) Pinworm

Oh, you thought you were losing weight because you cut back on the late night snacks? That’s sweet. But no. It’s a worm in your butt. Pinworms are common and highly contagious parasites that live on clothing, bedding and carpets. The worms are contracted when swallowed or when their eggs are inhaled (barf). Once swallowed, the worms make their way to your intestines where they will mature for the next month or so. But it gets even grosser… The females ‘exit’ your butt to lay their eggs, which causes your you know where to itch. So when you inevitably scratch your butt, the eggs make their way under your fingernails… and then on to God only knows where next…

16) Lice

We’ve all heard of lice. You’ve probably checked your kids’ heads a time or two and maybe even your own. The infection that they spread like wildfire is called pediculosis and causes intense itching on the scalp. BUT what you probably haven’t heard of: SUPER LICE. According to recent research in 2016, “lice samples in 48 states ALL carried pesticide-resistant genes.” What does it all mean? You’re going to need a bigger jar of Mayo. Just kidding, you probably need a prescription. Go to the damn doctor, please. And in the meantime… STOP SENDING YOUR KIDS TO SCHOOL!!! Thanks.

17) Australian Paralysis Tick

Just like scabies and lice, ticks are ectoparasites, meaning that they operate on the outside of the body, as opposed to internally. But this specific species, known as the Ixodes Holocyclus, really knows how to tick people off. Good news: If you’re not from or going to Australia, you’re in the clear. Bad news: There is no cure for the parasitic infection that it causes. More bad news: This tick spreads many diseases but some people won’t even live long enough to get them. The paralysis tick secretes a neurotoxin that can cause paralysis in some people. If the toxin reaches the lungs the result can be death due to respiratory failure. And just cause we are on a bad news streak… Many people are allergic to Ixodes holocyclus, meaning they just die sooner. (*Scratches “Australia trip” off bucket list, replaces with “more Netflix.”)

18) Bed Bugs

We all know and rightfully fear bed bugs.They are the tiny blood-sucking spawn of the devil. I don’t need to remind you how these tiny demons hide inside of cracks, waiting for nightfall, so that they can attack their sleeping hosts- us. But what you probably didn’t know is that the parasitic insects can spread even MORE parasites to people. According to Penn Medicine researchers in the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, bed bugs can transmit Trypanosoma cruzi to humans, a parasite that causes Chagas disease. It is one of the most prevalent and deadly diseases in the Americas.” Good to know… I think? Bed bugs spread Trypanosoma cruzi, not through their blood-sucking bites… Nope. They spread this disease-causing parasite when they poop on you (after they’re done feasting on your blood, of course.) Chagas disease kills about 50,000 people a year. Just when you thought that bed bugs couldn’t get any worse, they do. Ugh.

19) Onchocerca volvulus

This parasitic nematode can live for up to fifteen years in a human’s body and is transmitted through the bite of a black fly. Worms spread throughout the entire body where they proceed to live, feed, and reproduce inside your insides. So you probably think that you would want to kill the evil little mofos right? Wrong. When the worms die their carcasses cause intense itching and upset the immune system, causing it to destroy your own body’s tissue. Often times, this is your eyeballs.Thus, leading to “river blindness,” as in your blind, forever. So, you choose, worms or blindness?

Life is full of difficult choices.

It’s also full of disgusting parasites that feed on humans. That is all. Have a great night… Don’t let the bed bugs bite! Seriously, though, don’t let those little [email protected]*%s bite you. But do psychologically unhinge that special someone in your life by sharing these disturbing parasites with them… you know, so you’ll have someone to call in the middle of the night when you’re experiencing what is officially now an eternal case of insomnia.