Fungi & Parasite Terminology

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  • 0:02 Fungi
  • 0:48 Tinea Infections & Candidiasis
  • 3:05 Parasites
  • 4:01 Malaria & Toxoplasmosis
  • 5:35 Pediculosis & Trichonomiasis
  • 6:45 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Adrianne Baron

Adrianne has a master's degree in cancer biology and has taught high school and college biology.

We will discuss a working definition for fungi and look at a couple of common fungal infections. Parasites will also be defined and discussed. We will touch on a few parasitic infections.


Pathogens are microorganisms that cause disease processes. There are 4 main categories of pathogens. Some pathogens fall under the category of fungi.

Pathogenic fungi include yeasts and molds. Yeasts are single-celled, fungal microbes that reproduce through budding. Molds are multi-cellular, fungal microbes that reproduce through spores. One of the interesting things about fungi is that most of them are able to take on the form of yeasts and molds. The fungi that are able to switch form are said to be dimorphic.

The pathogenic fungi that infect our bodies are usually dimorphic. Let's look at some examples of the most common pathogenic fungi.

Tinea Infections and Candidiasis

Let's set up a scenario. One day, you wake up to your toes itching a little. The next day, the toes are itching and burning. Over the course of a few days, you're really bothered by the itching and burning because it now involves your entire feet instead of just the toes. You go to the doctor and are told you have tinea pedis. Your likely response is, 'Huh?' You've never heard of that before. What you have heard of, though, is athlete's foot. That is the common name for tinea pedis which is a fungal infection affecting the skin of the feet. This is the most common fungal infection in the body.

Tinea pedis is one of many fungal skin diseases that fall under the tinea infections umbrella. The others include tinea capitis, which is a fungal infection of the scalp, tinea cruris, commonly called jock itch, a fungal infection on the skin of the groin, tinea unguium, the fungal infection of the nails, and tinea manuum which is a fungal infection of the hands.

The other very familiar and highly contagious member of this group of diseases is tinea corporis, also called ringworm. This fungal infection of the skin can occur anywhere on the body and takes on the appearance of a circular worm under the skin. All the tinea diseases are caused by fungi that belong under the classifications of Epidermophyton, Trichophyton, and Micosporum.

Another large group of fungal diseases is candidiasis. These can occur over many different places in the body. The infection can be caused by one of several yeasts in the Candida family, but most are caused by Candida albicans. The symptoms for candidasis infections are similar to the ones for tinea. Most people with a candidiasis infection complain of itching and burning at the site of infection.

The area of infection also tends to take on a whitish appearance as the yeasts accumulate. The common sites for Candidiasis are the vagina, where it is called a yeast infection, and the mouth and throat, where it is called thrush.


Some people have had the unpleasant experience of having a relationship with someone who just kept taking from them, but never seemed to give anything in the relationship. The person in the relationship who was doing all the taking is often referred to as a parasite. The reason for people using this term has to do with how we define parasites.

Parasites are living organisms that get everything they need from another living organism at the expense of the other living organism. When we speak of parasites, they are living in or on the organism they are dependent on. There are instances when this relationship can become harmful and result in diseases that we call parasitic diseases. The majority of parasitic diseases occur in tropical regions of the world and are rarely seen outside of those areas. We're about to cover some of the most common parasitic diseases.

Malaria and Toxoplasmosis

Our first parasitic disease is malaria. A lot of people think that malaria is caused by mosquitoes, but that isn't true. Mosquitoes are the insects that transmit the parasite that causes malaria to us. Malaria is caused by Plasmodium parasites.

The most noticeable symptoms and signs of malaria are very similar to the flu and include chills and high fever. Most cases of malaria happen in southern Asia and the tropical regions of Africa. Cases outside of these areas are usually because the person traveled to one of those two areas and brought it back with them. This is a very serious and often times fatal disease. The silver lining is that it is treatable and usually preventable using the same medications.

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