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Many of us have heard about parasites in humans, such as giardia or amoebas. Still, we tend to overlook the relationship between these parasites and digestive and systemic diseases and disorders. The common belief that people in the US are free of parasites is a grand illusion. Some estimate that about 50 million American children are infected with worm parasites, only a small portion of which is detected and reported. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this is particularly worrisome when one recognizes that microscopic (single-celled protozoans) make up about 90% of all parasitic infections in the US. If existing parasitic infections are evenly distributed, there would be more than enough parasites for every living person to have one. The most recent statistics of the worldwide prevalence of certain selected parasites follows:

Disease Human infections Annual deaths
Malaria 489 million 1-2 million
All worms 4.5 billion
Ascaris 1.0 billion 20 thousand
Hookworms 900 million 50-60 thousand
Whipworms 750 million
Filarial worms 657 million 20-50+ thousands
Schistosomes 200 million 0.5-1.0 million

These are only some of the examples of parasitism compromising human health worldwide. In temperate areas, we are uneducated about the seriousness of parasitic diseases that reach their greatest impact in “tropical” countries from which many immigrate to the US. Contributing factors to parasitic diseases in the US, other than our own endemic parasites and immigration, include malnutrition, population density, economic conditions, sanitary practices, and lifestyles. Compounding factors in North America include the lack of public/media awareness, educational materials/counseling, and training of the public, as well as, in some cases, the professional community. It is in this spirit that this educational pamphlet is offered to you.