Read Parasites: Tales of Humanity's Most Unwelcome Guests by Rosemary Drisdelle Online


Hidden away within living tissues, parasites are all around us—and inside us. Yet, despite their unsavory characteristics, as we find in this compulsively readable book, parasites have played an enormous role in civilizations through time and around the globe. Parasites: Tales of Humanity’s Most Unwelcome Guests puts amoebae, roundworms, tapeworms, mites, and others at theHidden away within living tissues, parasites are all around us—and inside us. Yet, despite their unsavory characteristics, as we find in this compulsively readable book, parasites have played an enormous role in civilizations through time and around the globe. Parasites: Tales of Humanity’s Most Unwelcome Guests puts amoebae, roundworms, tapeworms, mites, and others at the center of the action as human cultures have evolved and declined. It shows their role in exploration, war, and even terrorist plots, often through an unpredictable ripple effect. It reveals them as invisible threats in our food, water, and luggage; as invaders that have shaped behaviors and taboos; and as unexpected partners in such venues as crime scene investigations. Parasites also describes their evolution and life histories and considers their significant benefits. Deftly blending the sociological with the scientific, this natural and social history of parasites looks closely at a fascinating, often disgusting group of organisms and discovers that they are in fact an integral thread in the web of life....

Title : Parasites: Tales of Humanity's Most Unwelcome Guests
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780520269774
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 280 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Parasites: Tales of Humanity's Most Unwelcome Guests Reviews

  • Matthew
    2019-05-01 23:44

    Great book on parasitology by a working clinical parasitologist. If you are interested in the creepy crawlies that have plagued mankind for generations, this book is for you. The vignettes are delivered in case study form throughout the book which makes for great reading. Fun book and great weekend read.

  • Greg
    2019-05-05 06:31

    A truly comprehensive and unsettling book. Amoebas, protozoans, and insects capable of bringing whole nations to their knees. I'm always fascinated to hear about the ways natural organisms find to survive and reproduce. It is difficult to keep the risks in proportion, but it is important to know about the risks of drinking unfiltered water or traveling far away places. I would rather know about the guinea worm that may be eradicated by changing human behavior. I was troubled to hear about the round worm carried by raccoons. Much to think about as you scratch that itch.I just finished reading "Parasites: Tales of Humanity's Most Unwelcome Guests". It had lots of interesting stories like how the hook worm was imported with slaves from Africa. The hookworms crawl no more than five feet away from the bushes used as a latrine and burrow in through bare feet. It turns out that they don't have much effect on people from Africa, but caused white southerners to become anemic. You might say that the hook worm is the cause of the stereotype of "po' white trash". For hundreds of years, no one could guess the cause. You might also say that the hook worm, imported because of slavery, contributed to its downfall by weakening the troops whose job it was to defend it.Another story was about an endosymbiont bacteria called Wolbachia that produces certain nutrients needed by nematodes to survive and reproduce. There is a terrible disease called Onchocerciasis or river blindness. A nematode roundworm called O. volvulus is transferred to humans via the bite of a blackfly in the genus Simulium, and has infected thirty-seven million people in Africa. Numerous methods have been used to eradicate this disease which is the second highest infectious cause of blindness. Merck came up with an anti-parasitic drug called ivermectin. It doesn't kill the worms, but causes temporary infertility. Unfortunately the adult worms can live for 10 to 15 years, so the treatments need to be treated annually. Not only that, the black flies can spread the disease to new hosts. Resistance to ivermectin has appeared, with some females able to reproduce a few months after treatment. It turns out that the bacteria Wolbachia spp. live inside the cells and embryos of O.volvulus and other nematodes. The human disease is actually caused by the immune response to Wobachia which are exposed when the nematode dies. One useful approach may be to go after the Wolbachia with antibiotics. So far research hasn't revealed an antibiotic that will clear Wolbachia bacteria in human cases of onchocerciasis with less than three weeks of treatment.Another round worm, B. procyonis, is picked up from the feces of raccoons. Studies reveal that raccoon infection with B. procyonis is rare, but the following is a cautionary note implying that raccoon presence around small children should be avoided. Adult worms live in raccoon intestines and may generate a hundred thousand eggs a day. Eggs enter the environment in raccoon droppings and mature in moist soil. Raccoons defecate in communal latrines such as the tops of stumps, large horizontal branches, and fallen trees. Small animals such as mice, rabbits, and birds may forage a raccoon latrine and incidentally swallow eggs of B procyonis. In these animals, the infection is deadly. Mature eggs hatch in the intestines and the larvae migrate through tissues into the bloodstream. The majority encyst near the head. A small percentage of the larvae invade the brain causing mice to "jump, run, and spin". Infected animals may fall prey to a hungry raccoon and thus pass the larvae on. Once swallowed, larvae develop into adult worms inside the raccoon intestine.The people who get caught in the life cycle of B. procyonis are almost invariably small children, those most likely to stumble across a raccoon latrine and transfer eggs from hands to mouths. Immediate preventive treatment with antiparasitic drugs can avert disaster, but by the time the diagnosis is made, it is usually too late. Many victims die and the remainder are left with permanent brain damage. Migrating larvae may cause a rash on the face and trunk, respiratory symptoms, and enlarged liver. The patient develops a fever, with loss of coordination, sleepiness, and irritability. The illness progresses to seizures and coma.The tough eggs of B. proconis remain infective for years, making a contaminated lawn almost impossible to clean up. The book is full of similar stories, including a chapter on imaginary infections, so don't get too spooked by these samples stories.

  • Scotchneat
    2019-04-30 07:46

    If you have a good imagination, this might not be the book for you. Things burrowing in your skin, your bowels, making you sick, living off your refuse, colonizing our food. Well, you get the idea.The scientific language gets in the way of the "story" of the book, from time to time. Though it's very obvious that Drisdelle has done her homework.I learned about some things, and I'm just hoping they don't show up in person.

  • Kees
    2019-05-10 23:40

    I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's written in a way that is not overly cumbersome to read, bogged down with jargon, but explores the complicated concepts fully. I feel cheated at times where the entries seem to be based much more on wild speculation and "maybe", but a good many of them are detailed accounts or founded on substantial evidence. My biggest regret is the subject at hand is not generally socially acceptable to share in polite company over the dinner table.

  • Elizabeth Humphries
    2019-05-09 04:30

    This is an easy-to-read beginner's guide to common and popular parasites among us. The author has an informal way of writing, which I saw as a plus. She is also obviously fascinated with her subject, and her enthusiasm is hard to ignore. Throughout the book, the author mixes general descriptions of parasites with case studies (and occasional discussions of the pathogen's historical significance). The book ends with a discussion on parasite extinction, and whether it's really a good idea.

  • Victor Gibson
    2019-05-13 01:37

    Did you know that some parasites have parasites, and that there are good reasons why some religions do not allow pork to be eaten?This is a fascinating book. Well worth reading, particularly for travellers. You will never look at a racoon in the same way.

  • Melanie Baker
    2019-04-22 06:43

    Not for the weak of stomach, but it does an interesting job of combining what parasites are, how they work and how they've evolved (with us) with how they affect us, how they've altered cultures and history, and the things we do that sometimes accidentally cause them to flourish.

  • Katherine
    2019-05-19 02:26

    Very interesting and well-written book. Now please excuse me while I douse myself in bleach.

  • N.A. Fedorak
    2019-05-02 03:51

    Reasonably well done, although I'd like more depth into the actual methods of the parasites and the biological systems and how they work.

  • John
    2019-04-20 00:37

    Fun, especially for travelers! Written to entertain.

  • Charlotte
    2019-04-23 23:53

    After a rather slow start it picks up to be a pretty interesting book. Definitely will not be walking around bare foot in foreign countries!