I got the given question. They want the following pieces of information about protozoological human parasites:

disease - parasite - vector.

There are 10 proteogenic diseases at the Wikipedia. I added the corresponding parasite and the vector next to them:

  1. Malaria - Plasmodium - Apicomplexa
  2. Amoebiasis - Entamoeba histolytica - sarcomastigophora
  3. Giardiasis - Giardia lamblia - no vector
  4. Toxoplasmosis - Toxoplasma gondii - no vector
  5. Cryptosporidiosis - Cryptosporidium - Apicomplexa
  6. Trichomoniasis - Trichomonas vaginalis - no vector
  7. Chagas disease - Trypanosoma cruci - insect
  8. Leismaniasis - Leishmania donovani - sand fly vector
  9. Sleeping sickness - Trypanosoma brucei gambiense - tsetse fly vector
  10. Dysentery - Entamoeba histolytica - sarcomastigophora

I am unsure what I should answer to the question since it is asking "all" possible vectors for unicellular human parasites. There are many possible diseases, much more than the given ten in my opinion. It seems also that there are many possible ways of getting the infection for each disease.

I hope that I am wrong in my statements. It is my first course in Parasitology.

What would you answer to the given question?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ This is a good question, because the term "vector" is not used consistently in the literature. This probably is because the context of the discussion is often limited to a subset of parasites. The term is sometimes used to refer to blood-sucking insects. However, animals (including humans) can also be vectors. More generally, anything with mass could be a vector (e.g. biological warfare might use a missile or a blanket as a vector). $\endgroup$ Commented Mar 23, 2012 at 14:05
  • $\begingroup$ Note that if you can answer broader to the question I will accept your answer. It is very difficult for me to accept my own answer so please answer to the question such that your answer is outside of the standard textbooks. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 1, 2012 at 18:04
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I think the textbook answer is good here, and in line with epidemiological terminology. There are always exceptions, and this topic is outside of my area of expertise. Perhaps you could ask your professor for some more details on the use of the term "vector" - maybe print out this discussion and ask for details that you could use to improve your post. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 1, 2012 at 20:03

1 Answer 1


Based on my course material, I managed to get the following list:

  1. Malaria - Plasmodium falciparum, p. malariae, p. vivax, p. ovale - female anopheline mosquito
  2. Babesiosis - Babesia devergens, babesia microti - tick ixodes ricinus
  3. Balantidiasis - Balantidium coli - waterborne
  4. Coccidiosis & toxoplasmosis - Eimeria species - waterborne
  5. Toxoplasmosis - Toxoplasma gondii - waterborne
  6. Amoebic dysentery - Entamoeba histolytica - waterborne
  7. Periodentitis - Entamoeba gingivalis - oral-oral contact
  8. PAM - Naegleria fowleri - waterborne
  9. GAM - Acanthamoeba species - waterborne
  10. BAE - Balamuthia mandrillaris - waterborne
  11. Trichomoniasis - Trichomonas vaginalis - sexual contact
  12. Trypanosomiasis - Trypanosoma brucei gambiense, trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense - bite of a tsetse fly
  13. Leukopenia - Leishmaniasis specieses - different genera of sandflies: Plebotonus & Lutzomyia

Waterborne means that the parasite is transmitted to the host through contaminated food, water or hands, or by swimming in warm pools or mud pools, for instance.


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