Common Parasites of the Human Blood
Some parasites known to feed on human blood are lice, mosquitoes, fleas, bed bugs, ticks, mites, triatoma, and babesia.
Parasites are organisms that draw nourishment from another organism, defined as the host, in order to survive. Parasites can infect both animals and humans. Many parasites live outside the host, as in the skin or hair, but there are also parasites, like Babesia, that live inside the host’s body. Parasites may thrive on the host’s blood or tissue. It is important to know which parasites feed on human blood to avoid infection.
Lice are among the most common parasites that can infest people. These organisms thrive on people’s blood throughout their lifespan. Lice are very small and wingless insects with six legs. They most commonly infest or live on a human’s scalp but they can also be found in other parts of the body like the eyelashes and even in the pubic area.
Mosquitoes are flying parasitic insects that live off warm-blooded organisms by drawing their blood. Mosquitoes are also regarded as pests. The mouthparts of a mosquito are adapted to pierce the skin of their hosts. After piercing the skin, they inject their saliva, which acts as an anti-coagulant, and then start drawing blood. Some mosquitoes are known to transmit illnesses like the dengue hemorrhagic fever and the West Nile Virus.
Fleas are flat insects that are commonly reddish brown in color. They can jump more than 100 times the height of their bodies or about 1 foot high. They most commonly live off household pets like dogs and cats, but they can also infest humans.
Bed bugs are tiny, brown-colored insects known to infest old mattresses, linens and other cool and dark areas. These creatures are nocturnal and usually feed on their hosts during dawn.
Ticks are considered an epidermal type of parasite because they can attach themselves to the skin of their hosts. They will then inject their pinchers into the host’s skin and continue drawing blood until their bodies are completely engorged. They usually detach their bodies from their host after they have had their fill of nourishment. Ticks are known to carry infections and many serious illnesses like Lyme disease.
Mites are known to burrow deep into the hair follicles found on the skin of humans. They can also cause skin problems like acne. Although, anybody can be infected by mites, elderly people are the most common hosts of this microscopic organism.
The triatoma are blood-sucking organisms that belong to the Reduviidae family of predatory insects. Triatoma are also called kissing bugs because they usually bite the lips of humans as they sleep. They are also known to bite the soft tissues of the eyes. Some triatoma species have been identified to transmit a fatal disease called the Chagas disease.
Babesia is a parasite of the blood that subsequently causes a disease called Babesiosis. Humans who become infected with Babesiosis usually suffer symptoms that are similar to malaria. This is the reason why some cases of Babesiosis are wrongly diagnosed as malaria.
Being aware of the different parasites of the human blood can help you take adequate precautions and seek proper treatment.