6 Horrifying Parasites (That Could Be Inside You Right Now)
There are some things which you just know you don't want inside of you -- like knives, or scabies, or anything from Hardee's. But there are some things which you had no clue existed, yet you know indisputably that you do not want them within a ten-mile radius of your delicate insides. Do whatever the fuck you think you can to get ready for this, but it will never be enough.
Warning: Gross pics ahead.
A Worm Parasite In Your Damn Eye
Loa Loa worms make your entire body their wonderland -- crawling under your skin, surfing your bloodstream, and colonizing your lungs. But the little bastards aren't content to merely leave itchy spots on your arm. No, they have to go the one place no worm should: your eye. Like a tiny wriggling vein, it's possible to actually see them work their way across the surface of your eye.
Strap in, folks. The whole article is like this
The parasite enters your body via a deer fly bite. Luckily for the whole world except Western and Central Africa, the parasite only lives in Western and Central Africa. Loa Loa is currently inside millions of Africans. The good news is that there's medicine that clears it right up. The bad news is that said medicine can fucking kill you. That's because the parts of Africa which Loa Loa plagues harbor more than one horrific parasite. They also have to deal with Onchocerca, a ringworm which causes "river blindness." A lot of people have both parasites at one time. If a person takes medicine to kill one while they have the other as well, they can go into a coma or straight up die, for reasons science doesn't understand.
Oh, and American deer flies are theoretically suitable hosts for Loa Loa, meaning it's technically possible for it to spread to the United States. Maybe you should start lighting things on fire now to be prepared.
Pork Tapeworms Crawl Into Your Brain
Unless you're on a mission to win as many steakhouse challenges as you can, you don't want a tapeworm. But while regular tapeworms have their limited appeal, even competitive eaters don't want the pork tapeworm. This little guy doesn't set up shop solely in your intestines like other tapeworms; he likes to travel. Once you ingest the eggs, they hatch in your guts. From there, the worm penetrates the walls of your stomach, and goes on a quest to find some other place to terrorize.
When the pork tapeworm infects your muscles, there are usually no symptoms, save for the occasional lump under your skin. If they make it to your eye, it will affect your vision and require surgery to remove. And if they make it to your brain ...
Turns out your fear of holes is completely justified.
They can cause headaches, seizures, and death -- often the result of the worm dying in your head, causing your brain to swell. So in a godawful twist of fate, this is the one case where you desperately want the worm to stay alive and please continue feasting on your brain.
The pork tapeworm lives in areas where pigs are allowed to eat human feces, which means that the parasite is found pretty much anywhere there is an abundance of pigs and a lack of modern plumbing. For this reason, Muslim-majority countries are almost devoid of the tapeworms, since they refuse to eat filthy, filthy pigs. And hey, turns out they had a good reason. Chalk one up in the plus category for Islam, for those keeping track.
Chigoe Fleas Live And Do Terrible Things Inside Your Feet
If you walk around barefoot on a farm or on certain beaches, chigoe fleas could bite their way into the soft parts of your foot, embedding themselves under your skin to drink your blood.
Somewhere, a Tarantino is crying.
As they're giving your foot the Bela Lugosi treatment, they swell up with your sweet, sweet hemoglobin. If unchecked, they can grow to around a centimeter in diameter, like a juicy little blueberry. And that sore they opened up in your foot? That stays open. The females leave their asses sticking out if it, using it as a dual breathing/shitting hole. They use it to lay eggs too, but luckily they spray them out into the dirt instead of in your foot -- they only leave their poop in there.
If chigoe fleas get firmly embedded in your foot, surgery is needed to remove them. The main prevention method is a plain ol' pair of shoes, so crusty Phish fans aside, the parasite mostly affects impoverished parts of the world, like in South America and Africa. Hmm, that's almost starting to look like a trend ...
Flies Lay Their Larvae Under Your Skin
Normal, respectful flies lay their larvae in rotten meat or some other type of trash, but not all are so courteous. Myiasis is a condition wherein some jerkwad flies lay their larvae in your skin. Once inside you, the symptoms can differ depending on the type of fly. There's "creeping myiasis," in which the maggots wander around under your skin, looking for a suitable spot to grow up and become responsible adult flies. As they crawl, they create awful lesions that are as painful as they are disgusting. But if the fly deposits its eggs in a body cavity like the mouth or ear, they can cause some horrific symptoms, such as:
Ugh, coffee stains.
In some rare cases, the larvae can crawl their way into the brain, which is fatal, if you were wondering. But brain maggots aside, they're mostly harmless. Just really, really gross. The main reason for treatment is "psychological relief," which is a fancy way of saying, "Holy fuck get these bugs out of my skin oh my god."
A Snail Parasite Spits Eggs Into Your Blood
Most worms take the scenic route into your body via contaminated food, taking the Del Taco highway straight down your esophagus. But for parasites that cause Schistosomiasis, that's not nightmarish enough. These worms live in snails, but are perfectly happy to burrow into your skin if they can get ahold of you. Once inside, they spit eggs into your bloodstream. Your immune system is obviously not a fan of this.
If you look close, you can sorta make out the worms.
If they get lodged in your intestines, it's abdominal pain and bloody diarrhea for you. If you're unlucky enough for them to land in your brain or spinal cord, it can lead to seizures or paralysis. A short course of medication can get rid of the parasites, but likely only after you've had them for weeks already. The parasite lives in places where the specific type of snail they like is common -- which, shocker, is the poorer parts of Africa and Asia. But in 2014, there was a large outbreak in France near a Corsican river. Maybe skip the escargot.
A Parasite Can Grow Out Of Your Face, And Scientists Don't Know What It Is
Researchers used to think Rhinosporidiosis was a species of fungus. But they now believe it's an "aquatic protistan parasite" which infects mucous membranes like your nose and leaves giant booger-like masses growing out of the most sensitive areas on your body. Once they're in there, they're in there. Sometimes for up to 30 years.
The nose is a bad enough place to have a floppy mass of parasites, but Rhinosporidiosis can live in other places, like your rectum or your goddamn eye.
Remember when we told you to strap in?
Luckily, rhinosporidiosis isn't very common. Infections occur in rural areas where people bathe in ponds. The vast majority of cases are from the poorer parts of Southeastern Asia, so most of you reading this should be- oh look, here's a reported case in Texas. Sleep tight, everyone!
Lee Anne is a writer and hobbit enthusiast.
Show any secret parasites you might have what REAL evil is by wearing an Alien facehugger right on your GD face--for fun!
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