An Overview of Ascariasis: Ascaris Infection and Intestinal Roundworms

What is Ascariasis?

Ascarisis, also known as Ascaris Infection, is caused by a worm that inhabits the small intestine organ. The worm itself is called Ascaris. The female Ascaris can be as long as 13 inches or more. The male Ascaris tend to be noticeably smaller than the female counterpart. Ascaris Infection is known to happen all around the world and is the most typical infection by worm for humans. Ascarisis tends to occur in subtropical and tropical areas and thrives in places without good sanitation practices. Ascaris tends to impact more children than adults. Ascariasis is extremely rare in America, but has been found in rural locations in the southeastern part of the nation.

What are the symptoms of Ascariasis?

Symptoms of Ascariasis are usually not detectable. In some instances, Ascaris Infection may lead to repressed growth and difficulty gaining weight. Severe cases of infection is known to cause abdominal pain and blockage in the intestines. When young forms of the worms travel into the lungs of an individual, coughing and problems with breathing may arise. 

How is Ascariasis spread?

Infection cannot be spread through contact with an infected individual. The eggs of the Ascaris can be found in human feces. From the human feces, the eggs can contaminate the surrounding environment. By making contact with contaminated surfaces such as soil and water, accidental ingestion of the Ascaris eggs can occur. In the stomach of the new host, the eggs mature and hatch larvae which can then travel to the lungs, then throat, proceeding to the intestinal area to develop into fully adult worms. The cycle is complete when female worms lay eggs in the small intestines, which are then expelled through the feces. Pigs are as vulnerable to Ascariasis as humans, so pig manure used as fertilizer is at risk of being contaminated with Ascaris eggs. Such fertilizer also contaminates plant life, which will infect a new host when consumed.

How is Ascariasis diagnosed?

Some patients report that they found noticeable worms in their stool or expelled them during coughing. Bring any samples you find to your doctor. If you suspect that you have Ascariasis, seek medical attention. Your doctor will be able to run stool examinations to diagnose you quickly.

How can Ascariasis be treated?

Treatment of Ascariasis can take up to three days with prescription medication. Fortunately, the prescription medication has proven to be quite effective and does not have any serious side effects to cope with. Your doctor may require examination of your stool to ascertain successful treatment. For mild cases of Ascariasis, there is no need to be alarmed. Doctors recommend that pregnant women postpone Ascariasis treatment until the baby is born.

How can Ascariasis be prevented?

Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, especially before handling food. Avoid water or food that may be at risk of contamination. When consuming raw vegetables and fruits, be sure they are washed properly. Peel or cook raw vegetables and fruits to avoid contamination. Be cautious about coming in contact with poorly sanitized areas and any surfaces that may have been contaminated by human feces. Avoid outdoor defecation. Take care to properly dispose of used diapers.

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