How We Got Into Parasites

By Richard Lewis

If you don’t look for parasites, you won’t find parasites. Another reality-if you don’t believe parasites exist in our clean environment, you won’t look for them.

Here are two stories that will help emphasize why The Center started looking more seriously at parasites and a few of the problems they cause.

…over 8O% of the ground water in Kansas is infected with either Giardia lambia or Cryptosporidium

About a year ago, Neil Riordan, RPA-C, was visiting a physician in California and examined a gentleman from Mexico who came into the office with a strange rash. The rash did not look like a fungal infection or an allergic reaction, so Neil asked him i fhe had stomach problems. He said he did. Neil suggested checking the man for parasites. He was infected with hook worm (Necatoramericanus). They treated the hook worms and the rash disappeared soon after.

As Neil points out, “If you don’t look for parasites, you don’t find parasites. That is the main message.”

The second story has to do with a two-year-old boy who had been extremely healthy until about ten days after his second birthday. His parents noticed he was going days between bowel movements (BM) and, when he did have a BM, it was extremely painful.

This went on for a few months while they took him to several pediatricians and pediatric gastroenterologists and even made a trip to a major children’s hospital with no success. The interval between BMs had now stretched to 10 to 14 days. During this short time, the child went from the 68th percentile in weight for his age down to the 30th percentile. The parents were frustrated as they watched their child waste away with no results. They even suggested that the doctors look for parasites, but were told by the pediatrician that you don’t get parasites here.

After consulting with Ron Hunninghake, M.D., at The Center, the child was checked for parasites. He had the parasite Blastocystis hominis. He was treated for this parasite, began having regular BMs and gaining weight again. If you don’t look for parasites, you don’t find parasites.

These two different stories show that parasites are more prevalent in the U.S. than most people want to believe. The common belief is that we are very clean people; we don’t have parasites. That must have been the belief of the pediatrician who told the parents of the two-year-old boy that you don’t get parasites here.

The facts don’t support this, though. Neil Riordan points out that over 80% of the ground water in Kansas is infected with either Giardia lambia or Cryptosporidium, two common parasites. A study in Toronto found that 23% of all children in day care are infected with Dientamoebafragilis. There is a place in India where 100% of the population has Ascaris (round worm). One might think that this doesn’t apply to us, but with our global community today, these people bring their parasites to the U.S.

A lot of our fruits and vegetables come from third world countries and with them come their parasites, Dr. Hunninghake pointed out. This doesn’t mean we should stop eating fruits and vegetables; it just means that we need to take proper care.

The Center began looking for parasites in a more innovative way than just looking in a fecal sample. About seven years ago, Neil Riordan began working with a special staining process to highlight the parasites obtained from a sample of rectal mucus.

As Neil pointed out, “The reason we do a rectal smear to collect a sample is because the parasites have to come out sooner or later and they will be there.” Using the rectal smear process, physicians at The Center have been able to find and identify parasites that are often missed in a fecal sample.

The first line of defense against parasites is hand washing. We made a 3D-minute video for children and teens with the big message of WASH YOUR HANDS!

This video was funded by a man who had a son who kept getting sicker and sicker until he finally died. Doctors could not find out why he was sick. During the autopsy they found that he died from an undetected Giardia lambia infection (a common parasite).

The next line of defense is to make sure your gastric pH is at the proper level.

You have probably seen ads on television for various over-the-counter antacids one can take. These antacids shut down stomach acid flow. Stomach acid is the body’s primary defense system for eradicating parasites before they get into the gut. Without stomach acid, parasites Slip through and set up residence in the gut. Once there, they begin wreaking havoc on the body.

So the best defense is a good offense. Keep your stomach healthy and happy by keeping the necessary digestive juices flowing properly-and wash your hands before eating. Should this fail to stop the parasites, the best defense becomes early and proper detection and treatment to resolve the parasite problem quickly.