Clinical Overview of Parasitic Diseases

At a glance

CDC offers a number of services for health professionals including clinical management advice for suspected or confirmed parasitic diseases cases, pre- and post-travel evaluation, information on the identification and diagnosis of parasites, and accredited continuing medical education courses, among other services.

doctors in laboratory setting

Clinical Management Advice for Confirmed or Suspected Cases of Parasitic Diseases

Subject matter experts from the Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria are available on a 24-hour, 7 day-a-week basis to assist health professionals with diagnosis and treatment of parasitic diseases that are potentially life threatening.

Health care providers in need of assistance with diagnosis or management of parasitic disease cases other than malaria should call one of the CDC Parasitic Diseases Hotlines below. Information about risk factors, diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and control of parasitic diseases is available on CDC's Parasites website.

Hotlines for Parasitic Disease Cases (not including Malaria)


Phone Number

Emergency, after-hours hotline


For malaria cases, health professionals should call one of the following CDC Malaria Hotlines. Guidance for diagnosis and treatment of malaria is also available at CDC's Malaria website.

Hotlines for Malaria


Phone Number

Emergency, after-hours hotline


Pre- and Post-travel Evaluation

Information on pre-travel general advice, including parasitic diseases, can be found on CDC's Travelers' Health website and can be used to assist international travelers prepare for their trip.

Parasitic Disease Diagnosis

DPDx: Laboratory Identification of Parasites of Public Health Concern provides information to health professionals on the identification and diagnosis of parasites. DPDx also contains parasite-specific information that may prove useful.

Drugs for Parasitic Diseases

Some drugs used to treat parasitic diseases are not approved (licensed) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for sale in this United States since their demand in this country is so low and seeking approval is not cost effective for the drug manufacturers.

However, to allow treatment of patients with an unlicensed drug product, FDA may permit the use of a drug or biological product under an Investigational New Drug (IND) application. An IND application includes a protocol for the clinical use of the unlicensed drug and must be submitted for review to FDA and permitted to proceed before any agents are released under IND status. CDC maintains protocols with IND status for some drugs to ensure that they are available in the United States when needed.

The following anti-parasitic drugs can be obtained from CDC's Drug Service (CDC Drug Service, Scientific Resources Program, telephone 404-639-3670):

  • Diethylcarbamazine (DEC)
  • Eflornithine
  • Melarsoprol
  • Suramin

Information on Specific Parasites

Health care providers who wish to obtain more information on a particular parasite can consult the Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria A–Z Index of Parasitic Diseases.

Accredited Continuing Medical Education (CME)

Courses are designed to educate clinicians about parasitic disease in the United States.

These courses will present an opportunity to think critically about diagnosis and treatment of less common parasitic diseases.

Course lessons will cover the following:

  • Basic epidemiology
  • Disease manifestations
  • Laboratory diagnosis
  • Clinical evaluation
  • Treatment options
  • Patient scenarios

More on: Continuing Medical Education Course Offerings