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Parasite Rex By Carl Zimmer Parasites are among the worlds most successful and sophisticated organisms They can transform the insides of other creatures into hospitable homes They can evade the onslaught of the immune system and even make it serve them Parasites can even control the minds of their hosts and force them to do their bidding And thanks to these skills parasites may make up the majority of all species I was never aware of how intelligent parasites were until I read this book I was afraid to touch smell or eat anything In years past parasite problems were mainly associated with travel But times have changed According to an article I read in the USA Today by Parasitologist Yiming Li MD and Neil H Riordan PA-C outbreaks of illness caused by parasites have made front-page news In the late 1990s 12 states in the United States reported epidemics caused by cyclospora a parasite ingested when eating contaminated strawberries and raspberries Two years ago people suffered during a cryptosporidium outbreak in Milwaukee Another instance of parasitic infection occurred when 21 people became ill after drinking contaminated water at a Chicago hospital Riordan reported that in Kansas alone water analysis indicates that 80 percent of surface water in the state is contaminated with giardia or cryptosporidium parasites Dr Li explained that the incubation period for parasites is two to seven days The symptoms of most parasitic infections are the same One may experience severe stomach pain diarrhea nausea vomiting anorexia abdominal cramping gas bloating fever or fatigue The symptoms last from one to two months Carl Zimmer describes the parasites lifestyles in vivid detail His subjects range in size from the protozoan Plasmodium which can fit inside a human red blood cell to tapeworms which can grow 60 feet long Living inside another creatures body requires developing elaborate ways to dodge the immune system from hiding in cysts to releasing tame viruses
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