Killer Protists

By: Nikita B. and Lindsey P.

Protists comes a variety of shapes and sizes.

General Information about Protists

Protists are a very large and diverse group of organisms, including plant - like protists (algae), fungi - like protists, and the animal like protists (protozoans). All protists are eukaryotic and the majority are unicellular. Protists vary in how they obtain their energy and in their locomotion. Although there are many that are harmless, some are dangerous.

1) Plasmodium falciparum (Malaria)

This species of Plasmodium is one that causes malaria in humans. Malaria transmitted through Plasmodium falciparum from the bite of a female mosquito is the most dangerous form of malaria, of which there are four types. Malaria is usually transmitted through the bite of the female Anopheles mosquito - they can only transmit malaria from a previously infected person. Malaria can also be transmitted through blood transfusion, organ transplant or the shared use of contaminated needles or syringes. Symptoms of the disease include fever, shaking chills, headache, muscle aches and tiredness. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may occur, as well as anemia and jaundice. If not treated properly, the infection can cause kidney failure, seizures, mental confusion, coma and death.

2) Trypanosoma (Sleeping Sickness)

There are two different types of the Sleeping Sickness found in Africa - the East African or West African trypanosomiasis. Trypanosoma is transmitted by the bite of the Tsetse fly, which is only found in rural Africa. A bite by the tsetse fly is painful and will develop into a red sore. Fever, severe headaches, irritability, extreme fatigue, swollen lymph nodes and aching muscles and joints are common symptoms. Others will develop a skin rash and other neurological problems arise after the infection has invaded the central nervous system. Characteristic of its name, people who have been infected will sleep for long periods in the day and will experience insomnia during the night.

3) Entamoeba histolytica (Amoebic Dysentery)

There are several different types of amoeba that are all harmful, but Entamoeba histolytica is able to burrow into the intestinal walls and spread to the bloodstream to infect other organs. Entamoeba histolytica can exist in two different forms: as free amoebae or as infective cysts. Amoebic dysentery is transmitted usually through contaminated water or food particles. Amoebic dysentery is an infection of the intestine that, among other things, can cause severe diarrhea with blood. Lesser milder, chronic symptoms include frequent loose stools, abdominal pain, cramps, fatigue, intermittent constipation and flatulence.

4) Giardia lamblia (Giardiasus)

The Giardia organism inhabits the digestive tract of both animals and human and can be transmitted between humans and animals. Giardia lamblia is usually transmitted through contaminated food or water, through either a fecal or oral route. Some infected with the disease may experience heavy diarrhea and the occasional fever, sometimes lasting for months at a time. Other symptoms include hematuria (blood in urine), loose or watery stool, stomach cramps, upset stomach, projectile vomiting, bloating, excessive gas, and burping.