How much do you know about leeches? Find out by taking this leech quiz.
Take a look at a very interesting development for a non-profit group and their lice comb! The lice comb is a non-chemical option for preventing and treating head lice. Read the article here.
Ticks – Order Ixodida
ORGANISM: Arachnid. SPECIES: Order Ixodida. Within this order there are hundreds of species of ticks. LIFE CYCLE: The female lays eggs which emerge as six legged larvae. The larvae molt into nymphs after a blood meal. After another blood meal the nymphs molt into adults. Some species complete this cycle entirely on an animal, while [...]
Bed Bugs – Family Cimicidae
ORGANISM: Insect. SPECIES: Family Cimicidae. Common bed bug is species Cimex lectularius. LIFE CYCLE: Males inject sperm directly into the female body cavity, and the females then lay their eggs in the surrounding environment. DISEASE CAUSED: Rash SYMPTOMS: Intense itching, scab, rash, papules. INCUBATION PERIOD: 24 hours to 9 days. POPULATION AFFECTED: Warm blooded mammals. [...]
Tachinid Flies Family Tachinidae
ORGANISM: Arthropod – Fly SPECIES: Family Tachinidae LIFE CYCLE: Eggs parasitize host species such as caterpillar or sawfly larvae by consuming their flesh in order to grow. Adult emerges from host species, which is sometimes killed in the process. DISEASE CAUSED: Host flesh consumed by fly larvae. SYMPTOMS: Sometimes host exhibits no symptoms and will [...]
Scabies – Sarcoptes scabiei
ORGANISM: Mite SPECIES: Sarcoptes scabiei LIFE CYCLE: Adult females lay eggs in the skin DISEASE CAUSED: Scabies, Mange SYMPTOMS: Intense itching, scab, rash, papules. INCUBATION PERIOD: 2-6 weeks. POPULATION AFFECTED: Domestic animals, humans RESERVOIR: Domestic animals, humans. VECTOR: None. TRANSMISSION: Skin contact. GEOGRAPHY: Worldwide. TREATMENT: Topical cream, antihistamine, environment sanitation. PREVENTION: Proper sanitation, avoid contact [...]
One day, I was riding my bicycle along a mountain track in Nepal, heading to a tea shop, when I noticed something brush past my nose, but I didn’t give it a second thought. As I ordered my tea, the waiter dropped his tray of cups and ran out of the shop screaming. I chased after him, to find out what scared him, but he wouldn’t even look at me. A bit puzzled, I cycled home and sat in front of the mirror. After a couple of minutes, I felt a tickle in my nose and a worm like creature emerged from my left nostril, looked around with its beady eyes, the retracted into my nose. Well now I was worried. I cycled to the doctor, who took me straight into the surgery and sat me down. I explained the situation, then the worm appeared again. The doctor squirmed, writhing his fingers and contorting his face as he proclaimed “it’s a leach”. I braced myself on the chair as he grabbed the leach’s head and pulled. It was a mighty struggle of pulling, squirming and wriggling, and!
then finally in a flurry of blood, the leach released itself from my nose. It was an aquatic leach, which will consume three times its body weight with blood from its host. It injects an anaesthetic, before it begins to feed, so the host is unaware of the feeding frenzy about to occur.
One-third of people living in onchocerciasis-endemic communities in Latin America are no longer at risk for the debilitating disease also known as river blindness, thanks to the hard work and long-term commitment of six endemic countries—and with the support of The Carter Center and other partners—officials announced today during the 20th Inter-American Conference on Onchocerciasis (IACO). Read the press release (PDF)>
Through regular access to health education and community-directed, semi-annual distribution of the drug Mectizan® (ivermectin, donated by Merck & Co., Inc.), more than 180,000 people—many of them farmers living in isolated regions of Latin America—will no longer have to fear the painful skin lesions and vision damage caused by the parasitic disease. Learn more about river blindness >
The Carter Center is the sponsoring agency for the Onchocerciasis Elimination Program of the Americas (OEPA), which works to end illness and transmission of onchocerciasis in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, and Venezuela by 2012.
“Our continued progress toward eliminating river blindness is bringing improved health to hundreds of thousands of people in the Americas and the preservation of vision for future generations,” said former U.S. President and Carter Center founder Jimmy Carter. “With continued focus, we can ensure that river blindness will no longer be a threat to people in the Western Hemisphere.”
During the past three years, Columbia and Ecuador have become the first two countries in the world to halt river blindness transmission, and other endemic nations are expected to follow soon.
Guatemala, where OEPA is headquartered and where the IACO conference was held this week, may be among those next in line to wipe out river blindness forever.
According to Dr. Arturo Sanchez, director of the Vectorborne Diseases Program of the Guatemalan Ministry of Health, “Guatemala expects to interrupt onchocerciasis transmission in the last of its four affected areas very soon, thereby becoming one of the next countries in the region to achieve interruption of transmission.”
The Carter Center and its partners will continue their hard work to make this goal a reality as soon as possible.
Carter Center Photo: P. DiCampo
The guinea worm is a parasitic nematode that causes Guinea Worm Disease, or Dracunculiasis. A person becomes infected with Guinea Worm Disease after drinking contaminated water containing copepods, or water fleas, that have ingested guinea worm larvae that are in the infective stage of their life cycle. Stomach acid digests the water fleas, but not the Guinea worm larvae, which migrate to the small intestine, penetrating the wall of the intestine and passing into the body cavity. During the next 10 -14 months, the Guinea worms mature to a full size adult 60 – 100cm (2 -3ft) long, and as wide as a cooked spaghetti noodle. Sixty to ninety days after infection, male and female adult worms mate inside the abdomen, whereupon, the male dies. Approximately one year after infection the female worm migrates to the site where she will emerge from the body, usually the lower limbs.
Before the worm emerges, a blister develops on the skin. This blister causes a very painful burning sensation, ruptures within 24 to 72 hours, leaving a lesion (ulcer), at the bottom of which is the anterior end of the Guinea worm. For relief, persons will immerse the affected limb into water. When a person with a Guinea worm ulcer enters the water, the adult female worm releases a milky white liquid containing millions of immature larvae into the water, thereby, contaminating the water supply. For several days after its emergence from the ulcer, the female Guinea worm is capable of releasing more larvae whenever it comes into contact with water.
Currently, there exists no vaccine or medicine to treat or prevent Guinea worm disease. Once a Guinea worm begins emerging, a person must wrap the live worm around a piece of gauze or a stick to extract it from the body, which is a long, painful process that usually takes weeks or months. If the worm is pulled from the skin it will snap off with part of its body still embedded in the host and cause infection.
After a global eradication campaign, Guinea Worm Disease was once prevalent in 20 nations in Asia and Africa, and now remains endemic in only four countries in Africa.
Ringworm refers to a clinical infection called Dermatophytosis, which is caused by one of several species of fungi. The fungi that cause this parasitic infection feed on keratin, the material found in the outer layer of skin, hair, and nails. Other common names for Dermatophytosis besides ringworm include jock itch and athlete’s foot.
Ringworm can infect humans and other mammals including pets and livestock. Transmission occurs by direct skin to skin contact with an infected host, indirect contact with an object or surface an infected host has touched, or rarely from soil.
Ringworm infection is usually diagnosed by the observed condition of the skin. In humans ringworm of the scalp usually begins as a small pimple that becomes larger, leaving scaly patches of temporary baldness and infected hairs become brittle and break off easily. Yellowish crusty areas may sometimes develop.
Ringworm of the body shows up as a flat, round patch on the skin and as the rash gradually expands, its center clears to produce a ring. More than one patch might appear, and the patches may overlap. Ringworm of the skin is sometimes itchy.
Ringworm of the foot is also known as athlete’s foot and it appears as scaling or cracking of the skin, especially between the toes.
Ringworm of the nails causes the affected nails to become thicker, discolored, and brittle, or to become chalky and disintegrate.
Treatment of infection with ringworm usually involves a topical antifungal and in more severe cases an oral antifungal may be administered.
I have a favorite trail in Manassas, Virginia and I walk my dog there multiple times a week. I select this particular walk because the trail is wide and it is close enough to water at the midway point that my dog can cool off and go swimming. I took a walk with him as usual at the beginning of August and when I got home I gave my dog the bath he always needs after hiking and then went to shower myself. When I took off my clothes I stared down at the dirt and mud on my legs, which is a usual occurrence the way I spend time in nature. With horror I noticed that the little particles of dirt were moving! As I examined closer I realized that I had hundreds of tick larvae either crawling all over me or already with their heads burrowed into my skin!
Tick larvae are so small it is almost impossible to grab a hold of them. I knew there was only one way to make sure I got them off my skin and I ran to the kitchen to grab a roll of office tape. Carefully I examined my body and wherever I saw a tiny moving brown fleck I made sure to bring piece of tape down on top if it. By the time I was finished I had numerous strips of tape all covered with immobilized larvae. Now it was time to remove the biters.
- ORGANISM: Arachnid.
- SPECIES: Order Ixodida. Within this order there are hundreds of species of ticks.
- LIFE CYCLE: The female lays eggs which emerge as six legged larvae. The larvae molt into nymphs after a blood meal. After another blood meal the nymphs molt into adults. Some species complete this cycle entirely on an animal, while others drop to the ground between each stage.
- DISEASE CAUSED: After a tick feeds on a host the site may produce an allergic response or rash. Ticks are known to transmit the widest variety of pathogens of any blood sucking arthropod. These diseases include bacteria, rickettsiae, protozoa, and viruses.
- SYMPTOMS: A tick bite may produce intense itching, scab, rash, papules.
- INCUBATION PERIOD: Depending on the host a reaction to a tick feeding may occur in 24 hours to a few days.
- POPULATION AFFECTED: Mammals, birds, reptiles.
- TRANSMISSION: Ticks may be picked up from the environment, especially areas with tall grasses, as well as other animals harboring the parasites.
- GEOGRAPHY: Ticks can be found in most wooded or forested regions throughout the world.
- TREATMENT: Remove a tick from skin as soon as you notice it. Use fine-tipped tweezers to firmly grasp the tick very close to your skin. With a steady motion, pull the tick’s body away from your skin. Then clean your skin with soap and warm water.
- PREVENTION: Avoid tick infested environment. If this is not feasible apply environmentally friendly insect repellant. Wear light colored clothing so ticks are visible. Perform a body check after exposure to environments containing ticks.
ORGANISM Ticks are blood feeding ectoparasites that belong to the order Ixodida, which contains hundreds of species. Ticks are arachnids just like scorpions, spiders and mites.
SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION Animalia – Arthropoda – Arachnida – Ixodida
LIFE CYCLE The adult female will lay thousands of eggs before dying. These eggs emerge as ticks in the larval stage, having six legs instead of eight. After taking a blood meal the larvae will molt into nymphs that resemble the adults only smaller. The final molt will produce the adult tick.
DISEASE While ticks are known to transmit the widest variety of pathogens of any blood sucking arthropod the bite itself will cause only a mild rash or papule.
SYMPTOMS In most cases the host cannot feel a tick bite. After the tick has fed the host will notice the itchy red bump on the skin.