As I don't know anyone in particular who has had a parasitic disease, or at least is willing to admit to having one, I will breifly go over some of what I know and have heard about these diseases. Additionally, as this topic of this paper is to go over some general knowledge about parasitic diseases, it shall be written in an informal manner, adn may stray off topic, for the sake of style and maintanance of an informal essay. To begin, I formerly found it very odd that there even be a distinction between diseases caused by parasites and those caused by normal pathogens. In fact, it seems unusual that we shoudl distinguish between parasites and any other agents of disease, as most diseases seem to be parasites.
Some of the terminology used in parasitology is infact similar to that used in general biology, specifically the use of the term obligate; when in refernce to the fact that many parasites are obligated to spend a part of their lifecycle in a particular host. This seems strikingly similar to me in the use of the term when refering to viruses as obligate reproductives, being unable to thrive, or even reproduce outside of a host, often a specific species or even a specific type of a species member. As there are some viruses that have been refered to in this course as parasites I think it is obvious that there is a great degree of overlap between parasitology and any other biological study. The great distinction seems to be that parasites, rather than simply being organisms that live in intimate association with another organism, are further required to be transported by a biological verctor of somekind. Whereas diseases in general can be airborn or waterborn, it seems that parasites in particular are transported by another living entity, and can often have an involved and long chain of intermediate hosts that transportit from one area to the next, almost as if the parasite can recognize some sites as advantageous and others as not. The recent outbreak of an encephalitic disease in New York City, with mosquitoes as a vector, is perhaps the epitome of parasites under this definition.
I rather enjoy watching the newsbroadcasts that show the culprit mosquito, with its crooked body; indicating that it is either aedes or culex, and low flying helicopters spraying marshes in an attempt to control the vector of this brain tissue disease. This outbreak is, in a way, my second association with and enchephalitic disease, as I had the good chance to visit England during the mad cow disease scare. Although mad cow disease is not a parasite at all, and may not even be considered a disease, as it is, as I have read, beleived to be caused by protein molecules called prions that have pathogenic properties, but are no more living than the amylase in a persons drool. Still it was rather interesting to listen to my british associates talk about how overblown the whole thing was, no thanks, I'd said, I'l jsut have the pork pie; what other reasons would there be to have this typically english cold spam in a biscuit treat other than the alternative is fatal.
This brings me to another parasite related topic, the cooking of meat. I personally savor the taste and texture of a lightly cooked black angus prime cut, and am quite glad to know that the worms infecting cattle rarely extend beyond the subcutaneous layer of fat, meaning that while you can't have your steak pittsburgh style, you might be able to get away with the delicately cooked "black and blue", and can safely sample a medium rare filet mignon. But i digress, while fine meats is an excellent topic in and of itself, it is not the topic of this paper. I find it rather unsettling that some diseases not normally associated with this part of the world can suddenly re-emerge. Specifically I am refering to an outreak that occured over this summer at a outdoor camping park on Long Island where some members of a scouting group contracted malaria, something I would not expect most local doctors to be prepared for. Locally, the contamination of a water supply with e. coli bacteria is interesting, in that the bacteria were vector transported, although not through a biological vector.
What is perhaps most unsettling is just how the water supply is believed to have been contaminated. Manure and other pleasant waste products settled out of the air around a ground well and collected in the water, providing nutrients for the bacteria and causing a prolific blooming of them. After hearing about this outbreak on the news for a while, which is supposed to cause severe liver damage, I noticed a sign at the deli I work at on campus asking for all employee's who attended the washington state fair, i beleive it was, to report IMMEADIATELY to their managers.