What to Do When You Think You Have a Parasitic Disease

Key points

  • Parasitic diseases are diagnosed and treated every day in the United States.
  • The specialist you see should be related to the symptoms you are having.
  • Its important to find a doctor familiar with diagnosing and treating parasitic infections

What kind of doctor should I see?

Choosing a doctor can be confusing. There are many medical specialties, all of which require different training, experience, and expertise. To help you find the kind of doctor best able to help you, consider the following:

  • How unusual is your problem? Is a specialist really needed, or can your primary care doctor diagnose and treat you?
  • Have you traveled outside of the United States?
  • Do you have special health concerns that require a specialist? For instance, pregnancy, diabetes, immune system problems, or other diseases?
  • Does your health insurance require you to get a referral from your primary care doctor to be able to see a specialist?
  • Why do you think your illness is caused by a parasite?

The specialist you see should be related to the symptoms you are having. Several kinds of medical specialties and a description are listed below.

Kind of Doctor

A doctor who specializes in:


Diseases of the skin, hair, and nails


Diseases of the stomach and intestine

Infectious Disease Specialist

Illnesses caused by infections with bacteria, viruses, or parasites

Internal Medicine Specialist

Diseases of adults, similar to a general practitioner, but with additional specialized training

Travel Medicine Specialist

Travel-related illnesses (see before and after travel)

Finding a healthcare provider

CDC is not a clinic or hospital. CDC is a public health institution that is a part of the federal government. CDC cannot refer patients to specific doctors or prescribe medication.

Parasitic diseases are diagnosed and treated every day in the United States. Some are common and some are very rare, found only in travelers or immigrants from areas where the parasites are common. Diagnosis is sometimes difficult and may require a specialist.

To find a healthcare provider familiar with diagnosing and treating parasitic infections, consider the following

  • Ask your primary care doctor for a referral to a specialist.
  • Contact a local, city, county, or state health department in your area. They may have a clinic where you can be seen.
  • Contact the nearest medical school teaching hospital or medical center for an appointment with a specialist.
  • Check your local telephone book for primary care and specialist listings.
  • Contact a member of a tropical medicine society or association.

Examples of such associations include:

  • The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene: www.astmh.org
  • The International Society of Travel Medicine: www.istm.org

Note: Not all doctors choose to be members of associations or societies. Not all doctors listed on association Web sites have office hours, so you should check first and choose one that does.