Intestinal Worms

Ascaris

Ascaris lumbricoides, or “roundworm”

Roundworm is most prevalent in regions with hot, humid climates and inadequate sanitation. The parasite primarily affects children ages 1-14. The worms live in the intestines, and the eggs are passed through the feces of an infected person and contaminate the soil. They are transmitted by ingestion of the eggs on unwashed fruits and vegetables, utensils, or dirty hands that have been exposed to feces-contaminated soil. The health effects range from mild abdominal discomfort to severe infections that can lead to bowel obstruction, rupture, and death. Malnutrition can develop among those infected with intestinal worms. Children with these infections may also have mental and physical growth impairments. Roundworm infections are preventable and treatable with prescribed medication.

CDC – Ascariasis. US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. 2020.

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Hookworm

Ancylostoma duodenale (“Old World” hookworm) and Necator americanus (“New World” hookworm)

Hookworm infection is most often acquired by walking barefoot on feces-contaminated soil. Some hookworm infections can occur in the lining of the mouth.The parasite primarily infects and affects adults (>15 years old). Although women of reproductive age are infected at similar rates as men, they are particularly affected by hookworm. Mild infections usually produce no symptoms but are still associated with lower hemoglobin concentration. [1] Severe infections result in blood loss, anemia, and protein loss. [2] Malnutrition can develop among those infected with intestinal worms. Children with these infections may also have mental and physical growth impairments. In addition to causing the majority of STH-associated deaths, hookworm caused an estimated 3.2 million disability-adjusted life years (DALY) in 2010. This represents the estimated number of years lost to ill health, disability, or early death caused by hookworm infections. Hookworm is responsible by for the most DALYs, by far, caused by a STH species. [2] Hookworm infections are preventable and treatable with prescribed medication.

CDC – Hookworm. Cdcgov. 2020.

[1] – Pullan R, Smith J, Jasrasaria R, Brooker S. Global numbers of infection and disease burden of soil transmitted helminth infections in 2010. Parasites & Vectors. 2014;7(1):37. doi:10.1186/1756-3305-7-37.[2] – Gyorkos, T. W., Gilbert, N. L., Larocque, R. and Casapía, M. (2011), Trichuris and hookworm infections associated with anaemia during pregnancy. Tropical Medicine & International Health, 16: 531–537. doi:10.1111/j.1365-3156.2011.02727.x

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Whipworm

Trichuris trichiura, or “whipworm”

Whipworms are most prevalent in regions with hot, humid climates and inadequate sanitation. The parasite primarily affects children ages 1-14. The worms live in the intestines, and the eggs are passed through the feces of an infected person and contaminate the soil. They are transmitted by ingestion of the eggs on unwashed fruits and vegetables, utensils, or dirty hands that have been exposed to feces-contaminated soil. People with mild infections usually have no symptoms. Heavier infections can produce frequent, painful passage of stool that contains mucus, water, and blood; rectal prolapse can occur. Severe infections can lead to bowel obstruction, rupture, or even death. Malnutrition can develop among those infected with intestinal worms. Children with these infections may also have mental and physical growth impairments. Whipworm infections are preventable and treatable with prescribed medication.

CDC – Trichuriasis. US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. 2020.

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