First, you need to understand that you’re not actually eating worms to become infected – you’re getting infected from the microscopic parasite eggs that can be virtually anywhere. If after reading this section you're thinking "If parasite eggs are everywhere and are so easy to obtain, then why aren't we ALL infected?" The answer? 90% of us ALREADY ARE. Here are some examples of how easily you can become a parasite host:
Water is the primary way parasites infect humans. For example, over 50% of our lakes, river streams and creeks are infected with the protozoa parasite Giardia Lambia. This parasite is not killed by chlorine and is steadily finding it’s way into urban areas with “treated” drinking water. Symptoms of an infestation include, diarrhea and cramping that lasts for over a week and is most often misdiagnosed as the stomach flu.
ALSO when swimmers have parasites and they swim in places with others, the water is then contaminated with eggs from their bodies. It only takes a very small amount of swallowed water to become infected.
You can obtain parasite eggs from other humans very easily. Since most infections come from the anal-oral route think about this – someone has parasites, they use the restroom, then they sit down and use the salt shaker on the restaurant’s table – they have just deposited microscopic eggs onto this object. You are the next person to sit at this table and use the salt shaker – you then lick your finger or even put your hand to your face – you are now the new host to parasites. Parasites can live under human fingernails for up to 2 months. Think of how many common objects you come into contact with on a daily basis. Even more common infections come from kissing, holding hands, sharing eating utensils and of course, sexual contact.
Usually if one family member is a host to parasites, the entire family is infected. There are many parasite eggs that can live without a host for weeks – for example, microscopic pinworms eggs become airborne and can travel ANYWHERE and they can live for two days outside of a host. These microscopic eggs are inhaled where they then hatch inside your body.
Animals, including pets, can spread 240 diseases to humans via parasites. By petting or grooming animals, you are picking up eggs that pass from them to us via hands, nose and mouth. ALSO parasite infected fleas and ticks and parasite infected animal feces are concerns. This is why walking barefoot where animals have defecated is a major source of parasite infections - especially when you CAN'T SEE the actual animal feces - you just happen to be walking where they have been before. THINK about this – when your pet (or someone else’s) licks their anus, they are depositing thousands of eggs onto their tongues – then they lick you and those eggs have just been transmitted to their new host. YOU. Americans now have the highest rate of toxoplasmosis parasites in the world. You have probably heard of this one as all pregnant women are warned about toxplasmosis because they can die from an infestation.
Pets and domesticated animals are not the only ones spreading parasites – mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, lice and all other biting insects transmit protozoa (one cell) parasites to humans.
Undercooked meats are a very high source of parasite infections. Commercial pork products are also notorious for infections – bacon, ham, pork chops, cold cuts, hot dogs, etc. Also cuts of meat such as beef, lamb, chicken and fish contain parasite eggs. Sushi (raw fish) alone contains eggs and larvae of several species of parasites. We trust the cattle, pork and chicken producers to keep their livestock wormed on a regular basis, but over 50% of animals that go to slaughter are parasite infected.
FRUITS & VEGETABLES
Unwashed fruit and vegetables are also a big source of parasite carriers. A lot of vegetables are eaten raw and according to the Center for Disease Control diseases from fruit and vegetables are on the rise. With a huge demand for fruit and vegetables, we Americans import 30 billion tons of food per year. Some of this food comes from countries where animal manure and human feces are used as fertilizer. This practice greatly increases the spread of parasites. The practice of eating out is also on the rise. Salad bars, infected food preparers, and improperly washed fruits and vegetables are all sources for parasites.
In our modern age, world travel is a way of life for many. These travelers are bringing home parasites that were once almost unknown in America. Airplanes are a great source for parasite transmission. It's very common for a family to go on vacation and bring back uninvited guests with them. We also have a huge influx of refugee and immigrant populations who are bringing us their countries’ parasites.
REMEMBER this – if parasites are so easy to “catch” then why isn’t everyone infected? Over 90% of us ALREADY ARE – it’s just the parasite’s mission to remain undetected.
Follow the age old advice of DON’T DRINK THE WATER – especially on camping trips, while traveling in foreign countries and when swimming in public places. Filtering your home drinking water also helps, as does boiling water to drink while away from home (camping, in foreign countries, etc.).
Avoid putting your hands in your mouth or touching your face and wash your hands often when out and about shopping, eating out, etc.
Worm your pets (and livestock) twice per year and do not walk barefoot where animals have been known to defecate. Do not allow animals to lick you in the face or mouth.
Thoroughly cook all meats – stay away from raw meats (including sushi) and cold cuts (including hot dogs) if possible.
Thoroughly wash all fruits and vegetables before consuming.
Worm YOURSELF and your family twice per year to stay clear of any parasitic infestations!