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You might think of parasites as a developing world or third-world problem, but they can live anywhere. They only need a suitable environment. They spread similar to germs, requiring a source, a route, and a host.

Common Methods of Parasite Entry

Unfortunately, a parasite can enter your home in innocuous ways. According to Dr. Jay Davidson from, even your wonderful pets can carry parasites such as ticks, fleas and lice. When the parasites bite and you touch your pet, the transmission begins. So, your dog goes to the park with you and chases, then catches a squirrel that has ticks or fleas. They jump on your dog who returns home with you to infect your car, carpets, couch, bed, bedding and much more.

When you pet your dog or walk where it already dumped parasites, they jump on you. They bite you both. This can make you both ill.

Another way to pick up a parasite is by consuming water or food that contains parasites or their eggs. You usually cannot see these tiny eggs with the naked eye.

You can also obtain parasites by being bitten by a mosquito carrying parasites. The mosquito may not suffer from the parasite's presence, but transmits the parasite in its bite.

These are some other ways infection can be spread. Some parasites can even enter through the skin when a person swims or bathes in water containing the parasites or even through the soles of the feet when a person walks barefoot.

How to Get Rid of a Parasite Infestation

You’ll need clean first to rid yourself of the pests. Keeping things clean keeps parasites from being able to breed and live.

The first step is to clean the house including picking up any trash and disposing of it in an outdoor trash can. Vacuum using a carpet cleaner designed for pest control. In the bathroom, clean all of the toilets, faucets and check the drain traps to make sure they are clear and working properly.

In the kitchen, also clean the faucets and check the drain traps. Store food properly. Make sure to separate the uncooked food from the cooked food and store it properly.

Wash all of the bedding and curtains. Use the same carpet powder to clean the couch and other fabric furniture. Treat the mattresses with pest control spray or wash designed for that purpose. They may need to dry outdoors which would mean you would need to treat the yard first. Most larger home improvement stores sell the proper yard treatments. Make sure you kill the pests in the yard before you place anything outside to dry.

Wash your pets thoroughly with a medicated shampoo that kills both the external parasites and their eggs and/or larvae. After treating them, you’ll need to continue to treat them with a parasite medication and wash your hands after petting or handling your animals. If your pet has an internal parasite like worms, you’ll need to obtain medication from a vet and administer this orally as directed.

Preventing Parasites

The first step to prevention is treating the immediate problem. The second step is to keep the parasites away by administering daily or weekly medication to pets. It also includes keeping your home clean.

While you may want to get the whole family involved in cleaning, keep children away from animal feces. Parasites can live in it. Give kids a different chore than cleaning up after the dog or cleaning the cat's litter box or the hamster’s cage. This helps keep children from becoming infected.

Exterior parasites like fleas and ticks require monthly treatment to keep them off of pets. You can use an over-the-counter medication, or you can purchase one from the vet. Treatments purchased from the vet tend to provide a stronger dose of medication. Likewise, internal parasites require regular medication to control.

Wear disposable gloves when you pick up your pet’s feces. Place it in a bag and tie it off before putting it in the trash can.

1. Also wear disposable gloves when you handle litter trays.

2. Use hot water, disinfectant cleaner and a brush dedicated to the use for cleaning.

3. Train animals to use a specific portion of the yard or a litter box in a designated area.

4. Enclose vegetable gardens or the kid’s sand box with mesh that a cat cannot get through.

5. Try to limit your pet’s food intake to their pet food.

6. Wash your hands immediately after petting animals or handling their food bowls or litter box.

7. Train your children to wash their hands after petting or handling the pets. Keep disinfectant soap in the bathroom and kitchen and teach them to use it each time they wash their hands.

8. When gardening, wear gloves and wash your hands as soon as you finish.

9. Conduct daily inspection of animals for fleas and ticks.

Endangered Groups

While parasites can infect any person, two groups are at higher risk. Children and the elderly get sick from parasites more easily than others, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC states that the US experiences more than a million cases annually of human parasitic infection.

The most common types of parasites in the US include:


Other parasites commonly picked up when traveling include hookworms. Once a parasite enters its host – whether an animal or human – they ensconce, reproduce and cause illness. They are both preventable and treatable. Symptoms of parasite infection include:

body aches and weakness,
appetite reduction,
difficulty concentrating,
painful stomach cramps,
anal itch,
blood in the stools,

These symptoms begin to show up a few days after ingesting parasite eggs, but it can take weeks to develop symptoms. As humans age, their immune system weakens. In children, the immune system has not yet developed. That reduces its ability to fight infection. If untreated, a parasitic infection can cause blindness, heart failure, seizures and death.

The key ways to prevent parasitic infection include washing hands properly, handling food properly, safe pet handling and care, plus proper and regular cleaning of your home. You can remain safe from parasites, but it takes prevention and regular effort.

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