I just realized that I have never gotten an internal parasite from eating lunch at Bourke Accounting’s weekly staff meeting. As internal parasites are one of my greatest fears (2nd only to bedbugs), I am pleased by this streak of good luck. However, since some of you may be traveling this summer, I decided that a public service message was in order. So, for everyone hitting that open road, here are three hitchhikers to avoid picking up:
1) Tapeworms. Tapeworm infections aren’t common in the US; the CDC estimates that fewer than 1,000 people are infected each year (Health.com). Since the longest worm ever found in a human was 82 feet long, it pays to be careful, though (Healthfacts.blog). Tapeworms may enter our bodies if we eat the undercooked meat of an infected animal. Then, they set up camp to share in our dinner plans. Interestingly, tapeworms have evolved their craft to the point where they, generally, don’t cause many symptoms; “when they do, it’s usually a stomachache, diarrhea or weight loss” (Health.com). If the worm and the human are able to get along, the worm lives “for up to a few years” (Health.com) and dies, whereupon the human’s body either absorbs the dead critter or passes it. However, the pork tapeworm is a different customer: this one can live in your brain, cause seizures and death (Health.com). This infection is caused by eating pork worm eggs “directly from infected human fecal matter” (Health.com). So, make sure you wash your hands and the hands of others. Often.
2) The Human Botfly. This fly lives in Central and South America and, while the fly itself doesn’t cause disease, her babies are evil. The botfly grabs a carrier (usually a mosquito), glues a bunch of eggs to her underside and lets her go (Wired.com). When the mosquito gets close to a human, the human’s body heat causes the eggs to hatch, allowing the babies to tumble onto the victim (Wired.com). The kids either slide down the hole the skeeter made or any other cuts that might be available (Wired.com). The baby then makes whatever hole bigger and shoves its face further in, “the opposite end barely pokes out the skin, allowing the larva to breathe” (Wired.com). They breathe out of their butts, I guess. As they get older, the host usually notices something’s up – botflies “rotate in their little burrows…creating this sort of intense shooting periodic pain” (Wired.com). Womenshealthmag.com suggests covering the botfly hole with bacon, nail polish or petroleum jelly to suffocate it before pulling it out. If you’d like to let it grow up in a good home though, let it be. After about three months, these guys will just sort of fall out and squish away (Wired.com).
3) Loa Loa. This is known as the “eye worm” (Businessinsider.com). Can you guess when it hangs out? If you get bitten by an infected deer fly in Africa, you’ve just made yourself a new pal! After Loa Loa gets inside of its victim, “the worm begins floating around tissue…until it stops and causes swelling and irritation in that spot” (Businessinsider.com). Your vision will usually be fine, but Loa Loa can “be painful when moving about the eyeball or across the bridge of the nose” (Web.stanford.edu). Besides being visible in the eye, they can also sometimes be seen slithering under the skin. Surgery can be used to get them out of eyes and there are medications available to clear up the entire little colony (CDC.gov). Oh, and by the way, they can live inside of you for up to 17 years (Businessinsider.com).
You know what? Don’t go anywhere. Don’t go anywhere, don’t eat anything – let’s just hide under the bed.
You won’t contract any of the above at Bourke Accounting. And if you must go traveling soon, make sure you see your Bourke Accounting pro first; filing your returns before July 15th with a Bourke Accounting expert will make your vacation so much more relaxing. Also, your Bourke Accounting prepared tax return refund will come in handy! Happy (and safe) travels!
Written by Sue H.