Understanding Ascariasis

Ascariasis is a very common type of helminthiasis, a parasitic worm infection, caused by the roundworm Ascaris lumbricoides. It affects up to a billion people worldwide, most commonly living in developing countries with poor hygiene and sanitation. Due to its large number of cases, it is said to be one of the most common infections in humans.

Ascariasis is the result of accidental consumption of eggs of the Ascaris lumbricoides worm, which can be found in contaminated soil. The eggs hatch into infective larvae in the small intestine, where they can pass through the intestinal wall into the bloodstream. The larvae can then migrate to the lungs, where they can cause damage. The larvae then return to the small intestine and develop into mature adult worms that can remain in the host's intestine for up to two years, producing eggs that will contaminate the environment.

Symptoms of Ascariasis

Symptoms vary based on the number of worms present but may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Fever

Severe cases of Ascariasis can lead to blockage in the intestines, and some individuals may experience a severe anaphylactic reaction or bronchospasm.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Ascariasis

Ascariasis is typically diagnosed with a physical exam and imaging tests such as an X-ray or CT scan. Your doctor may also take a sample of your stool to look for eggs from the worms.

Treatment usually involves an anti-parasitic medication such as albendazole or mebendazole. It is important to finish the full course of medication as prescribed by your doctor. In some cases, a second dose may be required.

Prevention of Ascariasis

To prevent Ascariasis, it is important to follow good hygiene practices such as washing your hands before eating or handling food, avoiding walking barefoot in areas where pets may defecate, and wearing shoes when working in the garden. In addition, ensure that your food and water is free from contamination and that your animals are regularly treated with anti-parasitic medication.