Ascaris infection in humans – symptoms, treatment and pictures
Ascaris infection occurs among children in geographic areas with low household sanitation and poor hygiene habits. The cause is a parasite called Ascaris lumbricoides, which looks like a worm. The parasite has a length of 20-25 cm for males and 40 cm for females. Worms inhabit the small intestine, where the female lays thousands of eggs daily, which fall out with the feces. After falling into the soil at the proper temperature and humidity, they mature in about 2-4 weeks. Children swallow them with fruits and vegetables contaminated or infected by dirty hands. In the intestine the eggs hatch into larvae that travel through the bloodstream to the liver, then come into the lungs, penetrate the alveoli and the bronchi. From a sputum they are swallowed again to grow in the intestines as adult worms. Two months after ingestion of eggs in the feces of children are already separated eggs from settlements in the intestinal worms. There they live about two years, after that they themselves fall out with the feces.
Symptoms of ascaris infection
The migration stage of worms in ascaris infection often goes unnoticed. Allergic skin rashes may occur, also occur transient inflammatory infiltrates in the lungs and blood eosinophilia. The intestinal phase also may not give specific complaints. Children may have poor appetite, abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting, iron deficiency anemia and weight loss. Popular belief that “eating dust” is a sign of ascaris worm is true in reverse order – ingestion of soil is a prerequisite for infection with eggs of the parasite.
Sometimes worms become trapped in the body and they can move in unusual ways, thus entering the appendix, biliary tract, the intestinal diverticula and lead to relevant complications – diverticulitis, jaundice, and appendicitis. In other cases, the worms move from the intestine to the stomach and esophagus during vomiting or are aspirated into the airways.
Proof of ascaris infection is by examining the feces for eggs of the parasite. After defecation 5-10 g fecal mass is taken in a small bottle and the same day is sent to parasitological laboratory. The diagnosis can be clarified when the mother notices worms in the stool of the child.
Treatment of ascaris infection
The treatment is the same as in sedge (enterobiosis). The drug is given at night and during the next 2-3 days the feces should be examined for worms and before being discarded they should be disinfected too. Prevention requires the observance of good personal hand hygiene. Human feces should not be used as soil fertilizer.