Parasite Terminology

H. diminuta life cycle.

Image via Wikipedia

:: The image chosen is of the life cycle of a specimen that I actually have a jar full of in my room… ::

Before I dive into aspects about the parasites mentioned in my last post (Trichinella and Toxoplasma gondii), I thought it would be a good idea to post a few definitions of frequently used terms. For future parasite posts, I’ll be sure to try to include a link here to make it easy on new readers, or just in case you’ve forgotten.

  • Life cycle: entire life history including stages and hosts
    • Direct: only one host
    • Indirect: one or more hosts
  • Definitive host: host in which parasite reaches (reproductive) maturity OR sometimes the most important host to us
  • Transport (or paratenic) host: no development occurs, used to get closer to necessary host (eg. marine parasite)
  • Intermediate host: necessary part of life cycle; immature parasite cannot reach maturity without it (eg. heartworms need stage in mosquito before infecting dog)
  • Patent infection: period when parasites are mature and reproduction occurs, parasite produces evidence of infection (eg. eggs)
  • Prepatent period: period following infection before parasites mature; often before infection can detected by microscope
  • Zoonosis: disease transmitted from animal to human
    • Reservoir host: animal carrying infection that can be transmitted to humans
    • Vector: agent (usually arthropod) transmitting disease
  • Helminth: worm
  • Anthelmintic: dewormer
  • Geohelminth: helminth acquired directly from the environment without intermediate hosts or vectors (term used for human intestinal parasites)
:: The information from this post is from my Introductory Parasitology notes taught by Dr. Zajac at Virginia Tech ::
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2 thoughts on “Parasite Terminology

  1. Pingback: Coccidia : The Next Battle for the Fantastic Four Kittens | The Rushin Safari

  2. Pingback: Hissy Spitty, Squeaky and Giardia | The Rushin Safari

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