Illustrations can show the seriousness of the matter while minimizing the shock value.
Abstraction literally means to pull out or reduce a concept to its essence, which ideally makes the concept easier to grasp and remember. This is important to most forms of art and illustration, and is the essence of modern medical illustration.
Case in point: parasite life-cycles are typically abstracted – sometimes to the point that they become less, not more clear. There was a need to keep this small illustration simple, but we tried to keep it as clear as possible. Then, in order to make it something interesting and exceptional, we focused on drawing the stages realistically, with an emphasis on the flea taking her blood meal.
There were several other parasites in the original project description, including Roundworm, Demodex, and Hookworm. These were canceled along the way, which made me quite sad in the case of the Hookworm sketch below. I so wanted to finish this illustration!