Parasites are still a major problem in a lot of the world but don’t think that they do not readily occur in the United States.
Make Parasite Prevention and Treatment Part Of Your Preps
Having to live rough can put you in some tight spots and you may have to live closer to the earth. Lack of sanitation and indoor plumbing may mean that hands are not getting washed like they should. An undercooked wild trout may give you something that you are carrying around for awhile.
I think a parasite plan is all too often overlooked because we have all got used living in places where kids don’t regularly get hookworms and foods are often processed so heavily that nothing much can live in them.
So let’s get started on some basics to help you formulate a parasite plan that is effective and within budget. Some people that do not have kids and animals may need to do less to take care of any parasite issues both now and in the future.
Roundworms and Pinworms
These nematodes are the most common in the USA.
10,000 kids each year get roundworms that are diagnosed at the doctor. Then there are all the cases that parents diagnose themselves and treat at home that does not get factored into this number.
This is why you can go to any drug store and buy Reeces pinworm medication. The active ingredient is pyrantel pamoate and it is effective against roundworms and hookworms.
Reeces Pinworm Medication
70 kids in the USA are blinded every year when roundworm infections travel to the eyes. These worms are so easy to get rid in the beginning stages. This 3 pack allows for a good supply. While drugstores carry this product, the price is not the best and if there has been a roundworm outbreak at a school or something then they may be sold out. It is one of those things that when you need it you really need it but thankfully most of the time it is not a popular product to buy.
Oral Pro Pyrantel Pamoate Oral Suspension
This is my choice for those that want to buy in bulk to put back or that have big households, livestock, or pets. The concentration is equivalent to Reece’s pinworm medication. This medication is technically labeled for animals but plenty of people use it with no ill effects. If you are not comfortable taking it then the Reeces is our best option.
Dosage Of Pyrantel Pamoate For People
Regardless of what pyrantel pamoate you buy, the dosage can easily be figured based on body weight. Remember that there is a wide range of safety with this medication so make sure to provide enough. It is better to give a little more than needed than too little.
Overcoming The Stigma of Parasites
Parasites are easier to get then you might think. The stereotype that they happen only to those that are dirty or poor is ridiculous. Plenty of people get parasites eating at $100 a plate dinners. Just ask the guy that had a 20 ft tapeworm from eating sushi regularly.
There is no doubt that poor sanitation and poverty contributed to parasite outbreaks in the past and this is still true today in countries that are yet to develop to the point of good sanitation and clean water for all but never think that parasites don’t affect everyone.
Basic Practices To Avoid Parasites In Everyday Life
Avoid Eating Undercooked Meals
There are a lot of dishes out there that have cooking requirements that if not adhered to exactly, can increase the risk of parasites. If you like your meat rare than I strongly advice sourcing it from a local farm that has transparent slaughter and animal welfare practices.
I went to Warren Wilson College and I have never had any reservations about eating a rare steak or burger from them. I also have raised a lot of meat here with my husband Matthew and we have butchered it right here where we had complete control of the process every step of the way or at most we have sent it to the processor just to hang and be cut up. The place we use is an old-time butcher shop where when you walk in you can see an immaculate facility and the employees.
Avoid Going Barefoot In Some Areas
Areas that have a lot of animals in them or any area you expect may be unclean means that you should at least put some sandals on. Traveling in some countries I would recommend never going barefoot for a variety of reasons. A clean front yard with no pet feces or walking on the concrete patio around your house is probably ok but use some caution about ditching your shoes too often.
Pets and Kids Sandboxes Don’t Mix Well
Cats especially love a good sandy spot to use the bathroom. You have to separate them from kids sandboxes which can be almost impossible without having a totally separate enclosure. Dogs like to lay or use the bathroom in them too. Basically, the sandbox is a giant litter box and not conducive to having outdoor pets and kids. Worm eggs can live a long time and with so many great ways for kids to have fun, it may be best to forget about the sandbox.
Donna did an excellent post on the benefits of good handwashing practices. Parasite eggs can be transferred to you and lead to an infestation when those that handle your food don’t wash their hands or don’t wash hands between handling meats, produce, and veggies.
Wash Greens and Produce Well
A vinegar and water rinse can help remove any residues or eggs that may be present in your produce. This is another reason to buy local when possible. The longer the distance and the more times produce is handled, the greater the chances of contamination. 3,000 miles is a long ways for lettuce to go when it is so easy to grow.
Wash Kids Clothes in Hot Water or Dry Completely In The Sun Or Dryer
Heat helps kill parasite eggs. Kids in school and daycare are exposed to a lot of other people. The clothes they wear are less likely to succeed at carrying parasites and germs into your home if they are washed often.
Lice can be treated with over the counter or natural methods. If someone in your house has it then you should treat everyone and wash any clothing, linens, or towels in the household to be safe. If you have things that have been totally put away they may be okay but when it comes parasites I am the type that would not want to take any chances on a reinfestation so washing everything and deep cleaning the house would be happening for sure!
The most common way to get rid of lice is to use a medicated shampoo combined with the cleaning methods previously mentioned.
RID Lice Treatment Kit
There are plenty of different brands out there but RID is probably the one that is most familiar. This kit is nice because it not only includes shampoo, comb, and spray for hair, it also has spray for your home. You can get all of these products in larger sizes individually but if you want to cover all your bases, this isn’t a bad start. A few kits put back in your preps wouldn’t be a major budget buster.
Natural Lice Removal
Below is a list of natural oils and remedies that are effective against lice.
- Tea Tree Oil
- Peppermint Oil
- Diatomaceous Earth
Foods That Help Prevent Parasites
Anything that boosts overall immunity is a help when it comes to preventing and eliminating parasites. Those with weakened or compromised immune systems are at a greater risk than others for becoming infected and experiencing more severe symptoms.
Add Garlic and Pepper To Your Diet
Garlic and hot peppers are not kind to parasites. If you don’t want the heat or the breath that comes with these foods then I recommend a pill form such as Cool Cayenne and Garlic by Solaray.
Food grade diatomaceous earth is thought to have many fantastic uses and health advantages. Check out my post on DE uses for an extensive list. DE pills exist for those that don’t want to mix it in their food or drink or measure every dose. Some are suspicious of the effectiveness of DE against parasites. All I can say is that it seems to work in my experience and it doesn’t seem to cause any real harm.
Wormwood and Black Walnut
Wormwood is something you need to be careful with, but there are many formulas that are easy to dose out. Wormwood is often combined with Black Walnut which also has antiparasitic properties. Below is one example of pill and extract from that is labeled for human use.
Kroeger Wormwood Blend
Now Fresh Green Black Walnut Wormwood Complex
Info for Pregnant or Nursing Women or Kids Under 2
Remember that wormers are all pretty strong medicines and some should not be used by women that are pregnant or nursing. If you suspect parasites and you are in this situation I suggest a visit to your doctor or trying DE earth for a while if no medical help is available.
Kids under 2 need special consideration too. Many chemical wormers and some natural remedies are not recommended.
Animals and Livestock
Some breeds and species are more prone to parasites than others. I have been raising livestock for nearly two decades and I have found that older breeds are less susceptible to parasites. Designer animal breeds are not always being bred for major hardiness as a primary trait. Some particular animals are more prone as well.
Parasite Loads and Climate
Warmer and wetter climates have a higher rate of parasites and these conditions can make them harder to treat. Right after a major warm and wet period is a good time to worm your livestock and pets if it is near the time they are due. I need to mention over worming too. You can go overboard with worming your animals. There may be years when you need to do it more than others. For example, when you first move to a new homestead the parasite load may be high because no prevention has been done or it may even have been managed in a way that encouraged a heavy parasite load.
For example, a place may have been overgrazed or animals like pigs may have been kept in a smaller space and not moved. With good farm management practices and keeping your animals and pets wormed, you can reduce this load and may reach a point where major worming only needs to happen a few times a year and you feed some diatomaceous earth to help keep everyone parasite free.
I know that some people really think their dogs and cats need a monthly worm pill but I personally don’t feel it is necessarily the best thing for all dogs and cats. In my own experience, you can worm far less. Just like with people, some dogs and cats are more prone to parasites whereas some seem to never have much of an issue. I have Great Pyrenees that only need to be wormed, occasionally but our lab cross seems to pick up parasites much more easily.
The more your dog or cat hunts around your place, the more likely it is that parasites are going to be a continuing problem.
Those that live in hot climates are going to need to be more on top of it when it comes to parasites. If you live in a colder area then they are not going to be as much of a problem. Living in western North Carolina we have found that our heaviest parasite problems have definitely occurred during the hot months whereas in the colder months there seems to be no problem at all.
Signs Of Parasite Infestation
Worms Or Grains Of “Rice” In Feces
Unfortunately, the first a lot of people know about a parasite infestation is seeing bits and pieces of them in feces. It all depends on the worm what you might notice.
Restlessness At Night
This is particularly present in children that have roundworms. The worms cause itching and tossing and turning.
You have things that are feeding off of you and then excreting substances. Severe parasite infestations can be very taxing on all the systems within your body because they are working harder.
Extreme Hunger, Loss Of Appetite, Upset Stomach or Indigestion
Digestive distress or craving more food can be a sign of infection. If you normally have fine digestion and start having a chronic problem then you should consider parasites as a cause. Of course, any of these side effects could be as a result of many other different health or dietary issues.
Suddenly dropping weight without a major change in diet or exercise is a sign that something is off. Weight loss has to do with calories in and calories out. Genetics can be a factor but the biggest factor is energy versus energy burned. As crazy as it sounds there are people that have purposely infected themselves or had someone else infect them with tapeworms in order to lose weight. I cannot imagine doing anything like that! Talk about endangering your health and that of those around you in the name of vanity.
A tapeworm is one of the more serious parasites to get. They are resistant to a lot of wormers so you will have to use Fish Tapes or go to the doctor. In my stash of medicines for hard times, I keep some Fish TapeWorm medicine on hand. It is the same chemical used for dogs, cats, and pigs too so anything that gets a tapeworm can be treated with a varying dose.
Be Sure It Is A TapeWorm
Tapeworm medications make you feel a bit more poisoned than wormers that take care of the more common and less serious parasites like roundworms. It is important to be fairly certain that you are dealing with this worm and not a more benign parasite that can be eliminated with less harsh means.
Consider Treating The Whole Family
Sure no one wants to have to take medicine for parasites if they can avoid it but if a single member of the family gets an internal parasite, it may be wise to treat everyone. When it comes to the common roundworm so common in schools, the instructions on the medications that are commonly found at drugstores say that the whole family should be treated. I don’t think this advice is just to sell more wormer either. If your kid gets roundworms there is a good chance you have picked them up too!
Parasite Die Off Effect
Eliminating worms quickly with a chemical wormer or naturally based one can lead to you feeling very fatigued and low. You might feel fuzzy headed. This is a normal reaction of your body. After all, you are essentially poisoning a population of something alive within your body. Try to get some extra rest and not do any activities that require you being alert or using fine skills. If you are eliminating parasites from a child it is important to give them some extra care and reassure them that they will feel better in a few days. Some people feel better faster than others and that has to do with a lot of personal health factors and how severe the parasite problem is.
Follow Up Worming
Some medications indicate that you should give a second dose in a few weeks just to make sure the problem is totally eliminated. This ensures that any eggs that may have survived. Sometimes parasite issues can be quite established and be harder to get rid of so the follow-up treatment is very important.
List Of Common Chemical Wormers Used For People and Animals
The wormers used for animals and people are often the same but not always. The dosage is different for people and some animals like dogs have to have far more medication per lb than horses for example.
Good for eliminating roundworms/pinworms, and hookworms.
This is the main ingredient in over the counter wormers like Reece’s pinworm medication shown below. It is also found in dog and cat wormers. You can get large containers of it to have a good supply for your family and homestead. This is a good wormer in that while it makes you feel a little sluggish like any wormer, it has a wide range of dosage safety and can be used by anyone over 2 years old.
Praziquantel or Fish Tapes
Good for eliminating roundworms, hookworms, and tapeworms.
This is a strong wormer that gets rid of all internal parasites in the worm category. You can get the tablets online easily at this time. The bottle size is small so it may be good to get several. This wormer is used on dogs, cats, and pigs as well. This is another one that is good to keep around the homestead just for the animals.
- Liver Flukes
- Blood Flukes
I have just covered some of the most common parasites. To cover all that is out there would require writing a whole book. If you are traveling to foreign countries there are many others that are possible to pick up. Be careful and take precautions but also don’t just ignore any symptoms that go on for a few days. The sooner you deal with a parasite issue the better and it means you are less likely to pass it on to others.
Links To Parasite Pics
I wrote this post to help you prepare but at the same time, I didn’t want people to turn away and not learn due to gross pics of parasites. At the same time, it is important to find out what type of parasite you need to treat. Here are some links that you can use to visually identify common parasites.
What are you doing to prevent parasites? Have you put back any supplies to deal with potential parasites during an extended emergency when sanitation or any help at all could be limited?
Parasites may be scary to think about but as you can see there is a lot you can do to prevent or eliminate them if you know how to recognize signs and treat you and your family promptly.