Brazilian pepper, Schinus terebinthifolius,

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ISSN:1059-6518 Volume 29 Number 3

By Brandon Munsell NREMT-P , WEMT-P, SOLO Instructor

As the campfire kicks into high gear, a camper throws on boughs from a nearby tree. Although the tree limbs seem dead, the tree they were taken from is abloom with bright red berries and serrated toothed leaflets. As the now burning branch begins to spew smoke, a wind directs it towards gathered campers. Upon inhalation the members begin to experience irritation to their faces and throats, and they also begin to tear up as they assume tripoding positions to catch their breath. As they retreat from the offending fumes, many begin to wheeze and seek water for their now burning eyes. What has caused this unexpected reaction?

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Parasitic Worms that can Penetrate Intact Skin


ISSN: 1059-6518

Parasitic worms and shoes – all about why, to stay healthy, we wear shoes.

By Frank Hubbell, DO

Illustrations By T.B.R. Walsh

The intention of this article is to explain why you should never, ever walk around the great outdoors barefoot, and why you should never, ever lie on moist ground exposing unprotected bare skin to the soil.

The reason is actually quite simple and a bit disgusting. There are parasitic worms that can live in warm, moist soil. When they come into contact with your skin, they will latch on to you, make a hole in your intact, healthy skin, and burrow into you. Once inside, they will proceed to their target organ, usually your intestinal tract, and parasitize you. As their unwilling host, you become sick and are now part of their life cycle.


Helminthes are parasitic worms in the Kingdom of Animalia.

Within this Kingdom there are two Phylum of parasitic worms, Platyhelmenthes and Nematoda.

The Phylum of Platyhelmenthes has two Classes of parasitic worms, Cestodes – tapeworms and Trematodes – flukes and flatworms.

The Phylum of Nematoda contains one Class of parasitic worms, Nematoda – roundworms.

There are many ways to divide up the world or parasitic worms. One way to distinguish them is by how they enter and parasitize their host. Most commonly, these parasitic worms gain entrance via the alimentary canal when you consume contaminated food or water. The other way is by penetrating intact, healthy skin.

In this article we are going to review the parasitic worms that gain access to their host by directly penetrating intact, healthy skin.

Parasitic Nematodes that enter the body by penetrating intact skin:

Necator americanis /Ancylostoma duodenale – hookworm

Ancylostoma braziliense – cutaneous larva migrans

Strongyloides stercoralis – threadworm

Parasitic Trematodes that enter the body by penetrating intact skin:

Schistosomiasis – swimmer’s itch

All of the other parasitic worms: cestodes – tapeworms, nematodes – round worms, and trematodes – flatworms and flukes, enter by ingestion of the infectious parasite in food or water.

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Wild Parsnip

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ISSN-1059-6518 Volume 27 Number 4

The Invader: Wild Parsnip

By Paul MacMillan, AEMT

Illustrations by T.B.R. Walsh


Pastinaca sativa

Danger: Stay away from this invader: wild parsnip in our woods. Wild parsnip juice and ultraviolet light lead to burned skin.

Wild parsnip is also called Pastinaca sativa, its scientific name in Latin. The homeland for this eye-catching, tenacious invasive plant is Europe and Asia. It was introduced into this country as a root crop by European settlers in the 17th century, and it escaped colonial gardens, spreading nearly everywhere. The only states currently free from wild parsnip are Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Hawaii, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

You may ask what does it look like? It is a member of the carrot family. Wild parsnips are typically biennials, but, on occasion, they can become perennials. The plant will form a rosette of basal leaves for the first year, then flowering the second year. It flowers primarily from May through July.

In its first summer the wild parsnip will have a rosette of leaves close to the ground. The plant is anchored in the soil by a long, thick, edible taproot, much like a carrot. If the growing conditions are right in the second summer, meaning soil impregnated with limestone or lime and in a sunny area, the plant will send up a single flower stalk that will produce hundreds of tiny yellow flowers. They form flat-topped, umbrella-like clusters called umbels. The stalks on the plant can grow up to 4 feet tall or higher. Wild parsnip plants produce a large number of seeds, which contribute to their persistence and spread.

Simple contact with this plant will cause you no harm unless you have supersensitive skin. The danger comes if you damage the plant, and you get the toxic plant juice on your skin. The wild parsnip plant parts contain chemicals called furocoumarins which cause “phytophotodermatitis.” The combination of this plant juice on your skin and some ultraviolet light will produce a burn on your skin.

When your skin comes into contact with these furocoumarins from wild parsnip the chemicals are absorbed into your skin. These chemicals are then stimulated by ultraviolet light, which is present during sunny and cloudy days, causing them to bind with nuclear DNA and cell membranes. This process begins the breakdown of cells and skin tissues. This reaction will take time before the actual skin damage is visible.

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By Frank Hubbell, DO

Illustrations by T.B.R. Walsh

This is a short article to compare and contrast Centipedes and Millipedes. Centipedes are venomous and can cause a painful bite, while Millipedes have no venom and pose no danger to humans.

Centipedes:    Millipedes:

KINGDOM                Animalia        Animalia

PHYLUM                  Arthropoda    Arthropoda

SUBPHYLUM          Myriapoda      Myriapoda

CLASS                      Chilipoda         Diplopoda


These are not Arachnids; they are Chilipoda.

They are predatory – eat insects, worms, and millipedes.

They have a pair of legs for each segment, 20 to over 300 pairs.

They have a pair of venom claws on the front segment, and they do produce venom used to killed and subdue their prey.

Size: 4mm (1/4”) to 30cm (12”).

8000 species of centipedes.

They have a venomous sting that is painful but not dangerous.

The only danger is the risk of an allergic reaction or anaphylaxis.

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