Killer Protists

By: Olivia Leach

Plasmodium Falciparum

Malaria is a disease caused by the protist Plasmodium Falciparum, commonly known as Plasmodium. This protist can enter into the blood stream by being bitten by a Anopholes Mosquito. According to the World Health Organization, 300-500 million cases of malaria occur each year and Malaria results in 1.5-2.7 million deaths per year. Most cases occur in Africa and South America. The protist lives inside the bloodstream, eventually clogging capillaries and destroying blood cells, which will lead to death if not treated. Symptoms include fever, headache, vomiting and other flu-like symptoms.

Cryptosporidium parvum

The parasite Cryptosporidium parvum, causes the disease cryptosporidiosis. Both the parasite and the disease are commonly known as "Crypto." The parasite is protected by an outer shell that allows it to survive outside the body for long periods of time and makes it very tolerant to chlorine disinfection. While this parasite can be spread in several different ways, water (drinking water and recreational water) is the most common method of transmission. Some of the symptoms of this disease are diarrhea, stomach cramps, nausea and fever, or stomach pain. Cryptosporidium is one of the most frequent causes of waterborne disease among humans in the United States.

Trypanosoma Brucei

Trypanosoma is a protist that causes a disease that is commonly known as African Sleeping Sickness (the scientific name is Trypanosomiasis). This disease is transmitted by the TseTse fly and occurs mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa. Symptoms include fevers, headaches, joint pain, confusion, and lack of coordination. The protist is purples-colored and string like and looks like a jelly fish because of its flagella which help it move.

Giardia Intestinales

Disease: Giardiasis

Protist: Giardia

Transmission: Drinking contaminated water (usually outdoor streams and other untreated water)

Symptoms: Severe diarrhea and vomitting, the protist takes up residence in the digestive tract.