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The big bug

The big bug

Health-The big bug

It is the season of flus and influenza. Pandemics like the Swine Flu or SARS get much attention due to their dramatically destructive nature but even without them, we have several kinds of bugs, bacteria and mites around us which can make humans sick. It is possible to get rid of some of them with some caution. While some of these invisible creatures can be minor irritants, others can cause significant harm

Dust mite

The dust mite is a microscopic insect — about 0.5 millimeters (0.012 inches) in length — that lives in human homes, where it feeds on the dust produced by human and animal skin. Dust mites are not harmful in themselves, but their droppings, which contain leftover digestive enzymes, are a significant cause of asthma and other allergy-related diseases. A person sheds enough skin annually to feed approximately one million dust mites.

Human flea

Fleas are common bloodsucking parasites. Having no wings, a flea cannot fly, but, having a flat body, it can slip through the strands of its host’s hair or fur quite easily on its powerful legs. Only about 3 millimeters (0.125 inches) long, the human flea, Pulex irritans, can jump as far as 33 centimeters (13 inches). Fleas can be quite dangerous because they can carry disease from one host to the next.

Bed bug

The bed bug is a small, wingless, parasitic, bloodsucking insect that feeds on mammals, especially people. The bed bug, often a carrier of infectious diseases, is so named because it often infests beds. Bed bugs can grow to 5 millimeters (0.157 inches) in length and can drink up to six times their weight in blood — furthermore, they can lie dormant for up to 550 days without food.


The human head louse, Pediculus humanus, is one of several kinds of lice with mouth parts specialized for sucking blood. The small, wingless insect has a flattened body 3 millimeters (0.118 inches) long, with a claw on the end of each leg that helps it cling to the hair of its host. Females lay whitish eggs, called nits, once a day, attaching them to the hair with a sticky substance. They hatch in about a week. Head lice are unpleasant andundiscriminating guests. They infest people who bathe often as well as those who do not, leaving itchy red spots on their hosts’ scalps.


The human whipworm, Trichuris trichiura, is a roundworm parasite that infests the large intestine. Females can grow to 50 millimeters (2 inches). Although roundworm infections are common and frequently go unnoticed, several species, including this one, can cause serious disease. The whipworm’s cylindrical, tapering body is simple, consisting of an interior gut and a muscular outer wall.

Blood fluke

This image reveals the intestinal Schistosoma mansoni, one of the species of blood flukes that cause the disease known as schistosomiasis. The males are thick and blue; the females are thin and clear. While in larval form, blood flukes enter the bloodstreams of people or animals exposed to contaminated water in tropical and subtropical climates; they then lay their eggs inside the host’s body. The disease’s symptoms, which include diarrhea, inflammation and hemorrhage, vary in humans depending on the species of fluke and what part of the body it infests. The disease may be fatal if untreated.


Trypanosomes are parasitic, flagellate protozoa that cause sleeping sickness and ‘Chagas’ disease in humans. The characteristically long, wavy trypanosomes can be seen among the doughnut-shaped red blood cells in this blood sample taken from someone with sleeping sickness. The disease is carried by the infected tsetse fly.

E. coli

E. coli (larger, pink) and Proteus vulgaris (smaller, brown) grow side by side in this petri dish culture. Under normal circumstances both types of bacteria harmlessly inhabit the human intestines — some 5 million E. coli bacteria normally inhabit the human and animal intestinal tract and are vital to processing vitamins in the diet. But they can become pathogenic and cause infections, such as urinary tract infections. E.coli infection from undercooked meat can be potentially life threatening.


A common pathogenic bacterium found in the mouth, throat, respiratory tract, bloodstream, and lesions of humans is Streptococcus pyogenes. Often airborne in hospitals, schools and other public places, this bacterium is responsible for a number of human ailments, such as strep throat. Cultures of nonpathogenic lactic streptococci are used in the fermentation of dairy products such as cheese and buttermilk.

Lactobacillus acidophilus

Finally some friendly bacteria! Similar to the type you might consume in your probiotic yogurt drink, Lactobacillus acidophilus bacteria is shown here appearing blue. At home in your gut, the breakdown of nutrients by Lactobacillus acidophilus produces lactic acid and other byproducts that make the environment hostile for other less-welcome organisms. It also out-competes these organisms for nutrients and aids digestion.

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Source by Consumer VOICE

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