Colon parasites are parasitic organisms which favor the environment of the colon, also known as the large intestine. Both worms and protozoa can be found living in the colon, and colon parasites are linked with a variety of health problems which makes it advisable to receive treatment for them if they are identified. The most common site for such parasites is in the wall of the colon, where colon parasites settle in alongside beneficial microorganisms in the gut which contribute to the process of digestion.
People are most classically exposed to colon parasites through the consumption of contaminated food and water. They may also be transmitted through unprotected sexual activity. Once introduced to the colon, the parasites can begin to multiply, taking advantage of an environment rich in food with conditions which are favorable to their survival. In the early stages of parasitic infection, people may not notice symptoms, but over time, they may lose weight, develop loose stool, experience nutritional deficiencies, and feel generally unwell.
Colon parasites can also cause nausea and vomiting, and while someone is infected, he or she is continually passing parasites which can be spread to others. Failure to wash hands properly after using the bathroom or use of a sewage treatment system which is not adequately contained can cause colon parasites to spread to friends, family members, and people in the community. People who work in food service are an especially ideal vector, as they handle food eaten by numerous people over the course of a day's work.
Treatment for colon parasites involves the collection of a stool sample which can be analyzed to determine which parasites are present, and the administration of medication to kill the parasites. It is possible for people to be coinfected with multiple parasites, which can complicate treatment and require the use of multiple medications to address the issue. Patients may also be asked to contribute a follow-up stool sample so that a doctor can confirm that the parasites have been effectively eradicated.
Colon parasites can also be seen in animals, and some are zoonotic, crossing the species barrier to take advantage of a new host. Animals with ongoing parasitic infections should be treated as quickly as possible, and people should be careful to wash their hands after handling infected animals to avoid accidentally ingesting parasites and acquiring the infection. For some animals such as horses, routine antiparasitic treatments are recommended as a precautionary measure.