Q:

How do protists affect humans?

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Quick Answer

Protists are primitive single-celled organisms, some of which cause human diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, four basic types of protozoans afflict humans, which are classified in the groups Sarcodina, Mastigophora, Ciliophora and Sporozoa.

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One noteworthy protist that affects humans is called Trypanosoma. This protist causes sleeping sickness and Chagas' disease. The organism was discovered in the early 1900s by the Brazilian researcher Carlos Chagas. It is carried and transmitted by the saliva of flies and assassin bugs when they bite humans.

According to the CDC, most protists that afflict humans live in the intestinal tract and are spread via the fecal-oral route. Giardia is a flagellate protist that causes very serious intestinal symptoms for people, and it is often acquired through the ingestion of fouled water.

Other protists are transmitted by insects and other creatures. One particularly damaging protist is called plasmodium, which causes the disease known as malaria. Malaria lives in the bloodstream of humans, and it is spread from one person to another when a mosquito bites an infected human and then bites another human.

The classification of protists is unresolved. Generally, scientists call plant-like protists algae while they call animal-like protists protozoans. Some other protists differ from both of these types, and they resemble fungi.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    How are protists helpful to humans?

    A:

    According to the CK-12 Foundation, protists are helpful to humans because they produce oxygen, are used in medical research, are an important part of the food chain and are even used in food. In fact, protists help to recycle the nutrients necessary for plant and animal life.

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  • Q:

    What are the types of protists?

    A:

    The types of protists, which are eukaryotes, that aren't animals, fungi or plants include euglenoza, alevolates, stramenopiles, red algae, slime molds and choanoflagellates. The alevolate group includes ciliates, sporozoans and dinoflagellates. The stramenopile group includes diatoms, golden algae, green algae and water molds.

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  • Q:

    What are harmful protists?

    A:

    Some harmful protists include plasmodium, gregarines, haemosporidia and coccidians. Others include babesia, toxoplasma, adeleorina and some forms of amoeba. Some of these protists are parasites on invertebrates such as gastropods while others are parasites on vertebrates such as humans.

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  • Q:

    How do protists reproduce?

    A:

    Protists are a diverse group of organisms, and they reproduce in a number of different ways, including asexual binary fission, multiple fission, fragmentation and several forms of sexual reproduction. Many protists can reproduce either sexually or asexually depending on environmental conditions.

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