Killer Protists

Lauren and Taylor


Common Name: Malaria

Scientific Name: Plasmodium falciparum

Transmission: This disease affects humans only. It is transmitted through bite of the female anopheles mosquito. It can also be transmitted through infected blood transfusions, organ transplants, needles, syringes, and in birth from mother to child.

Symptoms: It takes about 10 days to 4 weeks for symptoms to kick in. Common symptoms are shaking, chills, headache, muscle aches, fatigue, nausea, and diarrhea. Symptoms that come from long term, and often untreated, malaria include jaundice, anemia, kidney failure, seizures, mental confusion, coma, and death.

African Sleeping Sickness

Common Name: African Sleeping Sickness or African trypanosomiasis

Scientific Name: Trypanosoma brucei

Transmission: This disease mostly affects humans, but a few subspecies may infect either wild or domesticated animals. In this species, the protist is most commonly spread through the bite of an infected tsetse fly. It can also be spread across the placenta during pregnancy, sometimes other bloodsucking insects, as well as pricks from contaminated needles.

Symptoms: There are several stages to this disease. Symptoms of stage 1 are fever, headaches, joint pains, and itching. During this time the protist multiplies in tissues, blood, and lymph. During stage 2 the protist crosses to the brain and affects the central nervous system. More severe and obvious symptoms begin like changes in behavior, confusion, sensory disturbances, poor coordination, and the biggest sign, disturbance of sleep cycle.


Common Name: Giardia

Scientific Name: Giardia lamblia

Transmission: This protist usually affects humans, but can also affect cats, dogs, other mammals, and birds. There are many ways it can be transmitted. One is by ingesting infected stool from surfaces. Also drinking/ingesting contaminated water/ice, swallowing infected recreational water (cannot be killed with chlorine), ingesting uncooked food, contact with an infected person, and going to places where this infection is common.

Symptoms: Giardia infects the intestines. Symptoms often include diarrhea, gas, greasy/floating stool, stomach cramps, abdominal cramps, upset stomach, dehydration, and sometimes weight loss. Symptoms usually appear in 1-3 weeks after infection, and some people will show no symptoms at all.

Amoebic Dysentery

Common Name: Amoebic Dysentery

Scientific Name: Entamoeba histolytica

Transmission: It is usually transmitted through contaminated foods and liquids. The contamination will either be free floating amoeba or a group of amoeba that form a cyst. It can also be spread through poor hygiene.

Symptoms: This disease affects the intestines, but the amoeba can burrow through the wall and make it to other organs if not treated in a timely manner. Common, mild symptoms are loose stool, abdominal pain, cramps, painful stool passage, fatigue, intermittent constipation, abdominal swelling, and gas. More sever symptoms are severe diarrhea with blood, unexplained weight loss, and enormous cysts on various organs.