Are you having difficulty shaking off an illness? Are you suffering from chronic fatigue? Do you have a health problem your doctor cannot identify? Parasites in your body may be the cause. Many people think that parasitic diseases happen only to people in Third World countries. The rate of parasitic-related disorders in North America is skyrocketing. An astounding one out of six people will test positive for parasites.

Is there anything you can do to protect yourself and your family from this very real epidemic? Yes, there is. Following is an easy-to-understand guide that gives you the information you need to guard against these unwelcome organisms. It explains what parasites are, why they are harmful, and how they are spread. The symptoms of parasitic diseases-symptoms are easily confused with other common health disorders and treatments are available to combat parasites with practical advice on how to parasite-proof your diet and your lifestyle.

For many people, the topic of parasites is offensive, but ignoring the problem will not make it go away. The growing threat of parasitic disease is real, is dangerous, and is here. Becoming intelligent about this subject allows to take an important first step in defending the body from this hidden epidemic.

"We have a tremendous parasite problem right here in the United States-it's just not being identified." -Peter Weina, Ph.D., Chief of Pathobiology, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, 1991

"I strongly believe that every patient with disorders of immune junction, including multiple allergies (especially food allergy), and patients with unexplained fatigue or with chronic bowel symptoms should be evaluated for the presence of intestinal parasites." -Leo Galland, M.D. Townsend Letter for Doctors, 1988

"Make no mistake about it, worms are the most toxic agents in the human body. They are one of the primary underlying causes of disease and are the most basic cause of a compromised immune system." -Hazel Parcells, D.C., N.D., Ph.D., 1974

Americans today are host to more than 130 different kinds of parasites, ranging from microscopic organisms to foot-long tapeworms. Practically every imaginable kind of exotic parasitic disease has been found on our shores -African sleeping sickness, toxoplasmosis, schistosomiasis, giardiasis, amebiasis, filariasis- unpronounceable to most of us, but potentially deadly nevertheless. Even malaria is making a comeback, with cases of this mosquito-borne tropical disease being reported as close to home as New Jersey, Virginia, Texas, and California!

Parasites are an insidious public health threat in the United States today. Insidious because so very few people are talking about parasites, and even fewer people are listening. Insidious because of the common misconception, among physicians and the general public alike, that parasites occur only in tropical Third World countries, areas traditionally associated with malnutrition and poor hygienic practices. Insidious because physicians do not suspect, and therefore do not recognize, classic symptoms. And insidious because even if physicians are aware of the threat, most use outdated and inadequate testing procedures, which result in underdiagnosis.

Lack of education is to blame. In the United States, physicians are simply not educated in parasitology and are, therefore, inexperienced in recognizing common clinical symptoms. A doctor's introduction to parasitology may come from a chapter here and there in a microbiology course in medical school. If parasitology itself is taught at all, it is as a specialty in the department of tropical medicine at some universities. Courses in these departments are not often elected by medical students who believe they will not be seeing" tropical medicine" problems in their general practices in the United States.

Yet times have changed and parasites are much more widespread than previously believed. An article appearing in the June 27, 1978, Miami Herald states that a nation-wide survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in 1976 revealed that one in every six people selected at random had one or more parasites. The survey also pinpointed a parasite known as Giardia lamblia as the number one culprit in water-borne disease.

Louis Parrish, M.D., a New York City physician who specializes in parasites, wrote in 1991, "Based upon my experience, I estimate in the New York metropolitan area that 25 percent of the population is infected. . . . " Projections for the year 2025 suggest that more than half of the 8.3 billion people on Earth will then be infected with parasitic diseases.

A number of seemingly unrelated factors unique to the late twentieth century have contributed to the unrestrained parasite epidemic and added to the increased risk of parasitic infection. Some of these factors include:
  • The rise in international travel.
  • The contamination of municipal and rural water supplies.
  • The increasing use of day-care centers.
  • The influx of refugee and immigrant populations from --- endemic areas.
  • The return of armed forces from overseas.
  • The continued popularity of household pets.
  • The increasing popularity of exotic regional foods.
  • The use of antibiotics and immunosuppressive drugs.
  • The sexual revolution.
  • The spread of AIDS.