Long-Term Care

Tip of the week: Recognizing parasitic agents in long-term care facilities

Contemporary Long-Term Care Weekly, August 5, 2010

Illnesses are common in healthcare settings. Long-term care facilities are no different. The following list offers details about parasitic agents, which do not always lead to immediate symptoms and can take some time to present themselves, that are often found in facilities:

  • Body mites: These are very small parasitic agents. One of the most common body mites is the scabies mite that borrows under the skin and causes extreme itching and irritation. Most individuals who have been involved in long-term care have witnessed scabies outbreaks. Scabies is transmitted from skin to skin, or from bed linen or clothing.
  • Trichinella spiralis: This parasitic agent, often transmitted through food, can attach to the muscle and brain tissue and wreak havoc in a person. Since the agent of transmission is often food, especially pork, that is not fully cooked, the most important way to prevent infections is to thoroughly prepare food.
  • Giardia: This is a protozoan agent that is often found in water, fruits, and raw vegetables. In most areas of the U.S., transmission of this agent is not through water. However, fruits and raw vegetables, often a favorite food of many older adults, is a possible transmission source.
  • Cryptosporidium: Also referred to as crypto, this is a parasite that lives in a person’s intestines. It is a diarrheal disease that is most commonly picked up from water, but it can also be found in food or on contaminated surfaces. It causes watery diarrhea and it can lead to dehydration.

This is an excerpt from the HCPro book, The Long-Term Care Administrator’s Field Guide, by Brian Garavaglia, PhD.

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