Your personal area of risk of infection

The easiest way to send yourself inside some “organism” is to drink bad water or eat poor-quality food It is clear that the simplest precautions are really the simplest, and it is not difficult to observe them. For example, you can not drink tap water in a public place where you were for the first time, or fall into the temptation to starve a worm with pies somewhere in a suburban grocery store, even the appearance of the window of which does not cause appetite.

However, in everyday life, there are enough other ways to get infected: they took hold of the handrails on the bus, and then came to a cafe and did not wash their hands before eating. Perhaps you abuse homeopathic medicines, besides, before taking them, and do not think to consult a doctor, but swallow all the pills in a row prescribed by word of mouth. Maybe it’s okay for you to pet an unfamiliar dog or cat on the street. Perhaps your own dog is so much a member of the family for you that you ironically dismiss the idea of catching a parasitic infection from it and do not want to listen to common sense.

By the way, we will talk about pets first of all. Surely you have friends who indifferently dismiss any “parasitic” warnings – they say, of course, my wife and I have parasites, because we have two dogs and a cat. We all get infected from them periodically. Who is right here: doctors who insist on the perfect sterility of housing, or people who stand on the fact that “it is not safe to live in principle”? And is it worth it to escalate a negative attitude towards pets on the pages of our book? After all, an animal in the house is most often a constant source of positive emotions, a big dog is a reliable friend and defender of a small child, and for the elderly, as a rule, it is the only soul mate and companion.

That’s right, an animal is a source of joy. And the psychologists working on the works from the category of “cat therapy” and “dog therapy”are right. What about the risk of infection? So, to minimize it, it is important to know how to properly keep animals.

By itself, the process of infecting the host with parasites from its little animal is subject to certain laws. In this case, the type of parasite is important, that is, the degree of its “coincidence” with the degree of risk of infection with any, not only parasitic, disease of a particular animal host. One one parasites can infect a wide range of animal hosts, while some parasites can infect only one specific person.

For example, if a dog has picked up a skin mite (demodex), the owner will face serious problems, going to veterinary clinics and purchasing expensive drugs. However, a person will not get infected under any circumstances – most demodexes are not able to survive in his body.

Let’s conduct a gradation of the types of parasites common to humans and their pets. Both a person and a pet are equally susceptible to infection with such worms as broad tapeworm, cucumber tapeworm, or dipylidium, cat fluke, nanofietes fluke, trichinella nematodes (in subsequent chapters we will focus in detail on the nature of the origin and consequences of infection with these parasites). But here the transfer does not occur from one animal to another, but, for example, if you and your dog ate the same meat. These parasites are helminths (we will also talk about this in more detail below) – this means that before infecting the body, they go through a certain path of development in “intermediate hosts”, that is, in the organisms of invertebrates or vertebrates. Thus, the” means ” of infection is fish or meat that has undergone insufficient heat treatment.

The situation is a little different with cucumber tapeworm. You can get infected with it as a result of swallowing an infected flea parasite larva. Of course, you are unlikely to swallow a flea. More often, children who have eaten with dirty hands, on which there was a flea, are at such a risk. For example, the baby played on the floor, soiled his hands with household dust (there was a flea in it), then sucked his finger.

What kind of prevention can there be here? Elementary! It consists in regular thorough protection of pets from flea infestation. In other words – there will be no fleas, there will be no infection.

But there is another group of worms-geohelminths. We can get infected with them through eggs or larvae that are present in the soil (street dirt). The eggs of parasites got into it thanks to our pets, who coped with their physiological processes on the street. Alas, piles of feces on the streets indicate an extremely low level of our household culture! Moreover, both in large cities and in deep villages. Hence our justified fear of the possible contamination of our pets.

You may wonder: why is it more difficult to get infected with parasites in the wild? The fact is that in a dense forest or on a high-altitude plateau, where a large pack of wolves or a family of wild cats lives, there is a completely different space. Eggs or larvae disperse over a large area and die. And parasites are characterized by a huge reproduction of eggs – this is a consequence of their thousand-year adaptation to the expansion of the area of infection (that is, the continuation of their kind!). We help them in every possible way, increasing the concentration of domestic animals in their settlements on a limited area.

Believe me, in Sweden or Germany it is unthinkable to go out for a walk with a dog without taking a shovel and a couple of bags for cleaning feces. And the streets there are actually washed with special shampoos. And any vigilant old woman, finding a fecal pile, will not go to quarrel with the neighbors, but will call the municipality, asking to immediately send a cleaner. At the same time, the infection of people with “animal” parasites in these two countries is the lowest in Europe. But in Holland and Russia, the attitude to the piles on the street is the same – ” any child does not join the pile with a sandal.” As a result, the infection of people with such parasites in these countries is the highest.

What other common enemies are parasites in humans and their pets? First, toxocarosis, which is able to infect the whole family, including its four-legged member, with pulmonary capillariosis (tomynxosis). Secondly, hookworm-its larvae develop in the soil, and then penetrate (penetrating the skin) into the host organisms (it does not matter who gets this stuff first – you or the dog). Dioctophima, which affects the kidneys, is also dangerous. Moreover, on the one hand, these parasites are non-specific for a person, that is, there is a low probability that they will take root in the human body, on the other hand, if they have taken root, then the consequences will be much worse for you than for your dog.

One more trouble is echinococcus. In the last five years, the infection rate of Russians has tripled. The “cycle” is as follows: the dog became infected after eating the entrails of sheep, goats, horses, cows, elk, wild boars, hares (special attention of owners of rural and hunting dogs!). A small worm began to develop in the dog’s body, which is not dangerous for its health. The dog licked your hands. As a result, after some time, larvae began to develop in your internal organs, sometimes reaching the size of a cat’s head! Simply put, echinococcus is a disease of dirty hands. And its prevention consists not only in observing the measures of personal hygiene by the owner, but also in carrying out regular deworming (internal cleaning) of the dog’s body.

Now let’s talk about toxoplasmosis. Toxoplasmas are parasitic protozoa, the impetus for the development of which is the change of the host organism. The main “owner” of this infection is cats. But what about the person? The host is in danger if it is a person with an immunodeficiency, that is, infected with AIDS, as well as a person performing immunosuppressive therapy (treatment of autoimmune and oncological diseases). One more risk group is women who have contracted toxoplasmosis during pregnancy or shortly before conception. Toxoplasma will penetrate through the placenta into the developing fetus, as a result, it is possible (and very likely) the birth of a child with severe congenital diseases. That is why doctors often offer pregnant women to get rid of a cat, at least for a while. After all, a cat infected with toxoplasmosis secretes oocysts – they are the source of infection of the pregnant mistress. The cat secretes oocysts during the first three weeks after the fact of infection, then it becomes a carrier of latent (hidden) toxoplasmosis-like its infected mistress. But we can say something in consolation: it takes at least a day for the oocysts that stand out (with cat feces) to “mature” and become dangerous for a woman. And” for a guarantee ” – three days. Therefore, we can only hope that you clean the cat’s toilet every day, and your cat does not have the opportunity to shit in the products.

By the way, in order not to blame everything only on the cat, let’s say that toxoplasmosis is more likely to be infected in another way – through insufficiently heat-treated meat. In practice, these are many people’s favorite steaks with blood or” tasting ” minced meat by the hostess. Believe me: about 25 % of the meat you bought in a good supermarket is infected with toxoplasmas. Therefore, we will add to the preventive measures not only a clean cat’s toilet, but also the absorption of exceptionally well-cooked, fried, steamed food.

One more group of parasitic diseases of animals is arachnoses. They are provoked by arthropods parasitizing on the skin-ticks. We are talking about blood-sucking ticks that lie in wait for us and our pets on walks in city gardens and parks. This means not only demodex,but also, for example, itchy itching. Some of their types affect not only cats and dogs, but also humans (they cause scabies). Children are usually more susceptible to it than adults. A similar tick is a notohedron. It affects cats and rabbits, causing a scabies-like disease (symptoms are itching and hair loss). But, having struck (from a rabbit or a cat) a person, this parasite does not stay in his body for a long time. However, for several days you will have to endure skin irritation, accompanied by excruciating itching.

But I would not like all of the above to lead you to the deepest confidence that worms and ticks are only from animals, that there is no animal – there is no risk. You probably live in a big city. And even if you are a business woman who does not have a dog or food deposits at home, and your life is as sterile as high-tech style, you have no less risk of getting infected with parasites than an old woman who saves food, stores it and spends most of the day making out with her lapdog. Now we will tell you why.

There are such unpleasant things in the parasitic plan as money, telephone tubes, door handles and handles of cars, handrails in public transport. Of course, it is good if no one but you touches your credit card, your mobile phone, the handle of your car and your car keys, and the concierge daily cleans the door handle of your entrance to shine. But surely the situation is exactly the opposite.

First of all, and instantly, through hands, money, handrails, mobile phones, a scabies mite is transmitted. And it’s not just the dirty hands of the saleswoman, but also the fact that many people, especially girls, often, for greater convenience, do without a wallet, keeping “improvised” money in their pockets and handbags along with lipstick, a mirror, keys, a flash drive and a handkerchief. Huddled together, all these small objects generate just a lump of parasites.

From the same “risk group” – mobile phone handsets. Especially office, where corporate devices belong to everyone. By the way, there are a lot of such unsafe items in the most comfortable office – these are cleaning supplies, air conditioners that “throw” parasites in all directions, counting machines for money in accounting or a bank, and office restrooms.

Next – food. In a medium-sized bistro, you can get infected by eating a ready-made salad, which was previously mixed with the hands in a basin by a cook who had just been engaged in meat or fish. The probability of such an infection is especially high in fast food places located in markets and supermarkets, where staff have to cook, and at breakneck speed, a huge amount of food. But even in an expensive restaurant, where you have a reputation as a regular, you can eat exotically cooked meat or steak with blood, and with it-a bull’s chain. A trip to shish kebabs can end up with the fact that you will bring home trichinosis inside yourself. And it’s just a suicidal option – to buy seeds from the hands of a street seller.

Despite the fact that all nutritionists recommend giving preference in your diet not to meat, but to fish, you need to remember that eating fish from the point of view of parasitology is much more dangerous than “meat-eating”. It is no exaggeration to say that almost all the river fish available to us are infected with opisthorchiae-parasites that provoke the disease opisthorchis, which affects the liver, causes dizziness, reduces performance, weakens memory and vision. By the way, this infection can live in the human body for up to 20 years.

It makes sense for us to talk about fish in as much detail as about the nuances of living in your apartment with pets. Fish cuisine is now more fashionable than ever. We repeat the word “seafood” like a spell. Entering the fish cookery operating within the brand network, we are looking forward to an unusual lunch and buy a bright green salad with an unspeakable name, content with the seller’s explanation: “This is from Vietnam, there are algae and edible larvae”.

In addition to the fact that guests are treated to sushi and salads from raw fish with vinegar and spices, so they also spread theories among them that cooking, including fish, should be with minimal use of salt, smoke and heat. They say, this is the only way to preserve the natural taste of the product. But in the same way, you can keep natural parasites alive. By the way, many people, infected with parasites in the process of getting acquainted with exotic cuisine, have long been convinced that they have only an “allergy to sushi”, and not a worm-ridden gastrointestinal tract and liver.

We have already said that river fish (especially if you bought it not in a store, but, for example, on the highway from a seller, because he probably poached, that is, caught it where no water purification aggregates are installed) may be fraught with opisthorchiasis for you first of all. You should know: if 2-3 weeks after you ate fish, you started feeling weak, headaches, fever up to 38-40 °C, nausea, vomiting, pain in the right hypochondrium, bitterness in the mouth, intolerance to fatty foods – these are the symptoms of this disease.

But other “fish” diseases: clonorhosis (carriers of the infection – Amur chebachok, vostrobryushka, minnow, crucian carp, carp, bittern, Amur ide), diphyllobotriosis (perch, ruff, pike, burbot, Far Eastern salmon), nanofietosis (chum, kundzha, malma, Amur whitefish and grayling, taimen, lenok, less often minnow and Amur shirokolobka), metagonimosis (Ussuri whitefish, carp, Amur bream, catfish, rudd, minnow, verhoglyad, crucian carp, carp), anisakiosis (cod, perch, salmon, herring, Japanese dishes from raw fish), ligulosis (carp – bream, gustera, roach, rudd, roach). Symptoms of infection from eaten fish are different – as a rule, this is a change in appetite, weakness, nausea (especially on an empty stomach), vomiting, salivation, belching, heartburn, rumbling and pressure in the abdomen, unstable stool, headache, irritability, sometimes itchy rash. With a long course of the disease, anemia develops. The disease manifests itself 7-10 days after infection, and the primary signs are fever, skin rash, diarrhea, abdominal pain, soreness when probing the abdomen along the course of the large intestine.

Once in the intestines along with fish food, parasites grow, feed at the expense of your body, squeeze internal organs, cause a violation of their functions.

So, exclude fish from your diet? Once and for all, forbid yourself to eat it? No. Just print out the culinary commandments of a fish cuisine lover in large font and hang them over your cutting table, because it’s not difficult to observe them.

Do not give up sushi and your favorite raw fish salads, but choose places where they are offered with great care. Of course, you can eat sushi in a diner where it is cheaper, but the consequences of such a meal are entirely on your conscience. If you can’t afford to go to expensive fish bars, then cook yourself. Recipes for sushi and rolls are available on the Internet, and the ingredients are in every decent food supermarket. The fact is that you can eat raw fish only if the fish is grown artificially! This means that she was fed exclusively with artificial food, if necessary – treated, while constantly checking for the absence of parasites.

Choose a good place to buy sea fish. For example, a store, even if it is not cheap, that values its reputation, which monitors how its supplier works. After all, the rules for harvesting sea fish must be strictly observed: sea fish caught in the ocean must be frozen immediately, right on a fishing vessel. It should be thawed only before direct consumption!

The river fish is much more dangerous than the sea fish. Almost all of its species contain parasites that are dangerous to humans. The exception is perhaps sturgeon fish. Therefore, without the risk of infection with helminths, you can bring a sterlet from the store and throw it into the frying pan, for example. As for most river fish, choose for each species a truly safe recipe for cooking: as a rule, we are talking about salting, pickling or smoking.

General safety rules for any fish are as follows: cook it for 20 minutes from the moment of boiling, fry it for 20 minutes (at the same time, cut large fish along the ridge into longitudinal layers), bake fish pies for at least 30 minutes. In the process of hot and cold smoking, the fish is completely neutralized already at the time of readiness. In the process of hot salting (15-16 °C), the larvae of fish parasites die within 9 days, in the process of cold salting (5-6 °C) – for 13 days, in the process of dry salting-for 13 days in undivided fish, for 12 days in butchered fish. It is important to remember that it is necessary to use 20 % of the salt from the weight of the fish.

It is also important to know the rules for freezing fish. For 12 hours it can be frozen at a temperature of -27 °C; for 18 hours – at a temperature of -22 °C; for 36 hours – at a temperature of -16 °C; for 3 days – at a temperature of -12 °C; for 7 days – at a temperature of -8 °C; for 10 days – at a temperature of -4 °C.

However, you can get infected with parasites when eating not only fish, but also any other food both on the train and on the plane. From the compartment car, you can even take out hepatitis, tuberculosis, and dysentery. Of course, you should not paranoically protect yourself from germs, but it is better to refrain from eating on the train if you see that the conductor uses reusable dishes. Believe me, in the conditions of the train, he does not have time to wash it thoroughly.

A special place is hospitals. Unfortunately, everything is common here, including one and the same rag for washing the floor in all wards, mattresses and pillows, showers and corridor toilets.

There is a high probability of infection with parasites also in the summer on the beach or in a forest hike. We are talking about harmless bites of mosquitoes and midges that can carry roundworm larvae and malaria.

Alas, your own apartment can also become a springboard for infection. For example, you did not wash the cutting board too thoroughly – first you cleaned the fish on it, then cut the cheese in a hurry. You can even bring malicious maggots with library books!

Wash everything and, above all, your hands after coming into contact with “non-sterile” things, even disks taken from a friend. And we want to pay special attention to lovers of tinkering with home decorative plants: you can only transplant flowers with gloves. Why? As a rule, you use the land you bought in the store. So, in order to get such a nutritious soil in industrial conditions, manufacturers use sewage waste, and then sometimes they simply forget to disinfect the “goods”.

However, all parasitic troubles originate not only in the life of a big city. Helminthiasis, viruses and bacteria can be infected by a person who does not work in an office, does not use public transport, does not eat salads and semi-finished meat products from cooking and has never tasted sushi, that is, a person living in rural areas. He does not have a land and a pool, but there is a homemade well and an open pond, there is a toilet without a sewer or with a branch right on the border of the plot. The result is that not only our own potatoes and cucumbers are on our table, but also chemicals from the fields, manure from farms, and larvae from the local reservoir. And it is without washing with boiling water an apple picked up in the garden or a freshly dug carrot that our child” takes ” a parasite inside, which can live in the intestines for up to 20 years and reach a length of 25 meters.

And even more so, cows, pigs, and dogs become carriers of parasites. Probably, it is unnecessary to remind the word “salmonellosis” – a disease that people owe to their own chickens and poorly washed chicken eggs.

Pigs are especially dangerous. After all, they can eat rats in the barn and on the street. And rats carry a lot of infection on their fur. Why, in your opinion, do domestic pigs often suffer from trichinosis? And why is it really possible to die after eating 20 g of pork of a sick animal? Because 5 larvae per 1 kg of human weight is a dose sufficient for a fatal outcome.

Often, the joys of rural recreation include eating a delicious edible plant water cress. There is no doubt, it is useful and nutritious. But very often, and it is in the rainy season, this plant is infected with a sucker worm.

One more similar parasite – paratonymus-also gets to us during a village holiday. To get infected with it, you need to … eat crayfish. How do we usually cook crayfish? That’s right, before the redness. Did you know that cancer actually turns red long before the moment when the high temperature is guaranteed to kill the larvae of paratonymus? What’s wrong with it? Having settled in the lungs, very soon it will make us suffer from a cough with sputum, in which there will be plenty of ripe eggs of the parasite. This is in adults. And a child who has eaten crayfish will develop pleurisy.

We will especially say about trips to exotic resorts. It is clear that local food-it does not matter whether you went to the Crimea or to Thailand, to Sicily or to the Maldives – can have a detrimental effect on your health. Especially if it is food bought on the beach or “from the barbecues” of local chefs. Think for yourself: cooking so much and so quickly, it is unlikely that they care about the impeccable quality of products, especially given the fact that almost all southern national cuisines are based on fish or seafood. And it’s not just about dirty hands and equipment – your Russian stomach, most likely, will not be able to easily adapt to the peculiarities of exotic food. And those parasites that are not dangerous for local residents, with which they perfectly coexist, can lead you to a hospital bed or shackle you to bed for the entire duration of the tour.

We do not want to scare you, and even more so we do not urge you to drag yourself to Thailand with domestic “Roltons” and canned food. Just immediately calculate the possibilities of your wallet, choose a small clean cafe for daily meals (if it is not included in the tour conditions), where recognizable dishes dominate the menu. And to get acquainted with the exotic, find a cafe that will inspire you with more confidence than a wicker basket with freshly caught clams sold by a half-naked Haitian.

In any case, even if you travel a lot and often and are sure that exotic food is only a joy for your stomach, after arriving home after some time, be sure to ask your local therapist to send you to a parasitologist for examination. It is better to spend a little time than to realize with remorse that you are sick, can’t work, eat, sleep just because you hoped that a snake baked in sour cream would not harm you.

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