Description, Causes and Risk Factors:

The presence of parasites in the circulating blood; used especially with reference to malarial and other protozoan forms, and microfilariae.

Parasitemia cause a tremendous burden of disease in both the tropics and subtropics as well as in more temperate climates. Of all parasitic diseases, malaria causes the most deaths globally. Malaria kills approximately 1 million people each year, most of them young children in sub-Saharan Africa.

However, parasitemia infections also affect persons living in developed countries, including the United States.

    Trichomoniasis is the most common Parasitemia in the U.S., accounting for an estimated 7.4 million cases per year.

  • Giardia and Cryptosporidium are estimated to cause 2 million and 300,000 infections annually in the U.S., respectively.

  • Cryptosporidiosis is the most frequent cause of recreational water-related disease outbreaks in the U.S., causing multiple outbreaks each year.

  • There are an estimated 1.5 million new Toxoplasma infections and 400-4,000 cases of congenital toxoplasmosis in the U.S. each year; 1.26 million persons in this country have ocular involvement due to toxoplasmosis. Toxoplasmosis is the third leading cause of death due to foodborne illnesses (375+ deaths).

Mammals can get Parasitemia from contaminated food or water, bug bites, or sexual contact. Ingestion of contaminated water can produce Giardia infections. Parasites normally enter the body through the skin or mouth. Close contact with pets can lead to parasite infestation as dogs and cats are host to many parasites.

Other risks that can lead people to get Parasitemia are walking barefoot, inadequate disposal of faeces, lack of hygiene, close contact with someone who carries specific parasites, eating undercooked or exotic foods.

The association of clinical, nutritional, demographic, and socioeconomic factors with parasitemia, anemia, and MA (malarial anemia) was determined for children presenting at a hospital in a holoendemic area of Plasmodium falciparum transmission in western Kenya. Parasitemia was not associated with malaria disease severity. In univariate logistic regression, fever was significantly associated with parasitemia, and wasting was associated with increased presentation of MA. Caretaker's level of education and occupation were significantly correlated with parasitemia, anemia, and MA. Housing structure was also significantly associated with parasitemia and anemia. Bed net use was protective against parasitemia but not anemia or MA. Multivariate logistic regression models demonstrated that fever, mother's occupation, and bed net use were associated with parasitemia. In the current study, none of the factors were associated with anemia or MA in the multivariate models.


Symptoms of parasitemiamay not always be obvious. Actually, such symptoms may mimic anemia or a hormone deficiency.Some of the symptoms caused by several worm infestation can include itching affecting the anus or the vaginal area, abdominal pain, weight loss, increased appetite, bowel obstructions, diarrhea and vomiting eventually leading to dehydration, sleeping problems, worms present in the vomit or stools, anemia, aching muscles or joints, general malaise, allergies, fatigue, nervousness. Symptoms may also be confused with pneumonia or food poisoning.


Parasitemia is the quantitative content of parasitesin the blood. It is used as a measurement of parasite load in the organism and an indication of the degree of an active parasitic infection. Systematic measurement of parasitemia is important in many phases of the assessment of disease, such as in diagnosisand in the follow-up of therapy, particularly in the chronic phase, when cure depends on ascertaining a parasitemia of zero.

The methods to be used for quantifying parasitemia depends on the parasitic species and its life cycle. For instance, in malaria, the number of plasmodiacan be counted using an optical microscope, on a special thick film (for low parasitemias) or thin film blood smear (for high parasitemias).

The use of molecular biologytechniques, such as PCRhas been more and more used as a tool to measure parasitemia, specially in patients in the chronicphase of disease. In this technique, blood samples are obtained from the patient, and specific DNA of the parasite is extracted and amplified by PCR.


For some parasitemia there is no treatment and in the case of serious symptoms, medication intended to kill the parasite is administered, while in other cases, symptom relief options are used. When left untreated, silent infection may persist for months or even years. Although treatment with reduces the duration of parasitemia, infection may still persist and recrudesce and side effects are common. Improved treatments are needed.

NOTE: The above information is educational purpose. The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition.

DISCLAIMER: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care.


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