How to Care for Six Horrifying Parasites

Trypanosoma Slumber
© Science Picture Co./Corbis

Pet ownership can change your life. A loving cat might bring out your compassionate side. Regular dog walks can help keep you more active. That's all well and good, but Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense takes everything to the next level. This little parasitic protozoa can literally transform you into a different person.

Carried by the East African tsetse fly, a good infection of T. brucei rhodesiense can cause personality changes -- not in the touchy-feely sense, but in the clinical sense. Some people refer to the effects as East African sleeping sickness, choosing to focus on other symptoms, such as headache, skin rash, progressive confusion, irritability and eventual death if untreated.

But what kind of sensible pet owner focuses on the negatives? T. brucei rhodesiense offers you the rare chance to hold a dear friend so close that they're actually inside your central nervous system. Ready to transform your life? Just contact your local travel agent and ask about trips to rural East Africa.

Other selections: Too much of a wimp to let this ittle East African cutie change your life? Well, Naegleria fowleri can alter the way you perceive smells and Toxocariasis.

About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.