Wondered about those tiny little organisms that live inside your body, and live out their lives by getting their food through you? No? Well, they do. Believe it or not, there can be around 100 kinds of parasites that can cause parasitic diseases in the human body. Not just humans, parasites finds its host in almost every other organism, and derive the nutrients that they require. Scary isn't it?
Well, there are people doing something about it, and their profession revolves around the same field.
Parasitology is a field of biology which involves the study of organisms that feed on other organisms, in which they live. Professionals, who take up this interesting area of study and occupation are called Parasitologists.
What is Parasitology?
Parasitology is best suited to a person with inquisitive mind and interest in research. There are virtually unlimited research opportunities. The variety in basic and in applied research areas of parasitology exist in fields from the molecular level to the global level is unsurpassed in another field of biology.Parasitology is a field of biology which involves the study of organisms that feed on other organisms, in which they live many opportunities for a parasitologist to contribute to the betterment of the human condition.
What does a Parasitologist do?
A Parasitologist scientifically studies parasites and their relation to their host environment. They look into how this sort of a relationship will affect the humans. Parasitologists work in many fields including medicine, agriculture and focus on academics, where they can study many branches of biology like microbiology and biochemistry. Thus there are many layers to their jobs. With the ever rising technology and science, there are numerous possibilities for a parasitologist, to be at the forefront of advancing scientific ventures and find new opportunities.
Scope in Parasitology
A parasitologist doesn't just have to find out new parasites and tell the whole wide world about it. There are layers and variations to the occupation, and that depends on the position that one is at, and the area they have specialized in. There are several diversions in the opportunities that are available, these are-
Parasites are best known to be the reason why many suffer illnesses and ailments. Insect parasites such as fleas and lice cause annoyance, and as vectors of diseases such as the bubonic plague and typhus, they have carried along the diseases to cause death to a quite a number in the human population.
Medical parasitology involves epidemiology, chemotherapy which is the using of chemicals to treat ailments, immunology which is the study of immune system and pathology which is the study of finding out diseases that aren't easily unidentified, and thus requires processes to be found.
- The field of public health is considered as very close with that of medical parasitology.
- Health care professionals are employed by national, state and local governments and can work for international agencies such as the World Health Organization.
- In terms of the medical arena, the parasitologists are at continuous struggle and work to understand diseases that are caused by the parasites.
- Once this part is done, it becomes easier to corporate treatments and methods to prevent the development and spreading.
Agricultural parasitologist study about parasites in plants and animals, research and understand about those who end up in the food sources for the humans.
- Parasites can be harmful not just by directly making the human bodies as hosts, but by following their food resources, like plants and animals, and spreading diseases.
- Parasitologists concerned with the veterinary field look after the domesticated animals (such as cattle, horses, fowls) as well as for companion animals (dogs and cats) and the animals that are used by humans for sport and recreational activities.
- Plants can carry parasites, and therefore they can be used as biological control agents against crop insects, which can help curb a lot of loss.
Wildlife Parasitology deals with understanding the natural habitats of the animals who live in the wild and finding out threats by parasites, that can disrupt the normal lives of.
- They work towards finding out the parasites that cause harm to these animals and develop strategies to prevent such cases.
- These parasitologists usually find work among the government agencies, private industry or university surveys.
- Those who are involved with research and monitoring parasites in endangered species are called conservation biologists.
- The division of parasitologist who deal with parasites that are common among the fisheries and the aquatic population are called, fishery biologist.
Parasitology in pharmaceutics.
Pharmaceutical firms provide a lot of career opportunities for parasitologists. They can work in the area of developing chemotherapeutic substances, and understand the better uses of them. Developing such drugs can be used to diminish the spread of parasites in animals, plants, and humans as well.
Parasitology as an academic career
A career in academics when it comes to Parasitology can be a golden opportunity for an aspiring researcher. With the presence of parasites in almost all living organisms, parasitologists have a wide knowledge about the biological systems and are capable biologists.
A position as a professor in a university would provide many challenging opportunities for the aspirant as an educator and a researcher. The research opportunities are various, because of the nature of parasites, which is to find a host in any living being. Generally unknown to the public, the field of parasitology has immense potential in the future.
How to become a Parasitologist?
Students who are planning to follow a career in parasitology will have to choose the science stream and qualify the 10+2 examination or its equivalent, with the focus on biology, chemistry, and physics.
For Bachelors course, one can either take up an undergraduate course in parasitology or continue their B.Sc in biology or chemistry.
Master's degree in parasitology will include cellular biology, entomology and other related health and biology fields of study. A major in subjects in zoology, botany or agricultural studies will provide the student with a strong academic background.
Those who aspire to continue their Doctoral programs will be studying the host systems and potential diseases caused by parasitic organisms. Treatment of the ailments and control of parasites as well as the history of human parasites and contraction through genetics will be studied. These students will be working in a laboratory and take up academic positions.
While choosing these courses one must make sure that their choice of programs will help them to gain experience in their area of interest.
How much will you be earning?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that parasitologists earned an annual income of $75,150 in that same year. In the medical arena, pay may ascend. According to the BLS, medical scientists earned a median salary of $82,240 annually in 2015.
Top Institutes offering a course in Parasitology in India
- Assam Agricultural University- College of Veterinary Science
- West Bengal University of Animal and Fishery Sciences
- Birsa Agricultural University
- Sri Sathya Sai Institute Of Higher Learning, AP
- Jaipur National University, Rajasthan
- Jai Naraim Vyas University, Rajhasthan
Top Institutes offering a course in Parasitology around the world
- Yale University, USA
- University of Pennsylvania, USA
- Johns Hopkins University, USA
- University of Salford, Manchester
- University of Copenhagen, Netherlands
- Utrecht University, Netherlands