Find the connection between parasites and disease.

What does a Parasitologist do?

To figure out how to solve a problem, we must first understand it. In the case of Parasitologists, that problem is parasites. Parasites are those ever-adaptable organisms that attach to a host in order to survive. It is amazing how long they have inhabited the Earth. In fact, there are more parasites in the world than living hosts to accommodate them. That’s a lot!

Although they’re amazing, they’re also to blame for diseases in animals, crops, and humans. As a Parasitologist, you work to identify parasites and find ways to eliminate or minimize them. You also research how their presence affects humans. For example, can the parasites on fish or inside cows transfer to us humans when we handle or eat them? You might work with farm animals, captive zoo animals, or wildlife.

You also perform similar research on humans. Mosquitoes, fleas, mites, and ticks are examples of parasites that take up residence in human hair or skin. If that’s not creepy enough, these obnoxious buggers also bring a host of diseases with them. West Nile Virus, Malaria, and Lyme Disease are a few examples. As a Parasitologist, you strive to develop treatments and vaccines against these diseases.

Another responsibility of the job is to study the parasites that affect our food supply. With increasing demands on our resources, each crop that you can save from parasitic infestation is food that could put a damper on world hunger. If this all sounds interesting to you, roll up your sleeves, pull out your microscope, and start gathering samples.