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Intestine Parasites

The two main types of intestinal parasites are helminths and protozoa. Helminths are worms with many cells. Tapeworms, pinworms, and roundworms are among the most common helminths in the United States. In their adult form, helminths cannot multiply in the human body.


Intestinal parasites (Helminths)


Protozoa have only one cell, and can multiply inside the human body, which can allow serious infections to develop. Intestinal parasites are usually transmitted when someone comes in contact with infected feces (for example, through contaminated soil, food, or water). In the U.S., the most common protozoa are giardia and cryptosporidium.


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Signs and Symptoms


Parasites can live within the intestines for years without causing any symptoms. When they do, symptoms include the following:



What Causes It?


These things raise your risk for getting intestinal parasites:


  • Living in or visiting an area known to have parasites
  • International travel
  • Poor sanitation (for both food and water)
  • Poor hygiene
  • Age -- children and the elderly are more likely to get infected
  • Exposure to child and institutional care centers
  • Having a weakened immune system
  • HIV or AIDS