Parasitic Infections | Infectious Diseases

Infectious Diseases

Parasitic Infections

Parasites can cause serious illness. Learn how our infectious disease specialists treat and manage parasitic infections.

Medically reviewed by Dean Blumberg, M.D. on Sep. 06, 2023.

Female nurse talking to male patient in the clinic

Treatment and Prevention of Parasitic Diseases

We offer specialized care for parasitic infections, including consultation, testing and treatment. Our team participates in research studies that drive new advances in treatment and prevention.

We also lead outreach and education programs to help prevent parasitic and infectious diseases from spreading.

Our Difference

Expertise in Common and Rare Parasitic Infections

Our team treats parasitic infections common to the U.S. as well as those found in other countries. Providers at our Travelers Clinic can help you prepare for international travel with tips on preventing infections.

Specialized Training

The Infectious Diseases team includes fellowship-trained specialists who received advanced training in detecting and treating parasitic diseases. Our experts are leaders in their field. They offer the highest level of patient care.

Team-Based Approach

We work closely with other U.C. Davis Health specialists on complex infections that involve cancer or compromised immune systems. We also collaborate with physicians in community hospitals and clinics throughout the region.


What Is a Parasite?

Parasites are organisms that live on or inside a host organism and feed off their host. Some parasitic infections cause no or few symptoms. Others cause serious or life-threatening illnesses. Many infections are preventable or treatable.

Causes of Parasitic Infections

Food or Water Contamination

The feces of infected animals or people can contaminate food or water with parasites. When you eat or drink contaminated substances, you can develop a parasitic infection such as giardiasis.

Insect Bites

Insects like mosquitoes ingest blood from infected people or animals and transmit the parasite to your body when they bite you. Malaria is a common parasitic infection spread by insect bites.

Sexual Contact

Some parasites pass from one person to another during sexual intercourse. These infections can lead to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like trichomoniasis.


Complications of Parasitic Infections

Although many parasitic diseases are treatable, not everyone experiences symptoms or seeks treatment. This can lead to serious health complications and illness.

Possible complications include:

Birth Anomalies

Untreated parasitic infections in pregnant women can cause birth anomalies. For example, toxoplasmosis can sometimes affect the eyes and central nervous system (brain) in infants.


Infection with toxocariasis, a parasite found in dogs and cats, can cause blindness.

Heart Conditions

Chagas disease, which infects your blood, can cause heart rhythm abnormalities and heart failure.


Some parasites cause infections in your brain. Untreated infections can lead to convulsions and epileptic seizures.

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