Ascariasis is the infection of the intestine and occurs when a type of round worm known as ascarislumbricoides affect the small intestine. It is common in developing countries that lack modern sanitation. Ascarislumbricoidis a type of parasite known as a soil-transmitted helminth and it infects a person’s small intestine and acts as a parasite getting nutrients from it’s host intestinal tract.
Causes of Ascariasis
The round worm lays eggs which passes through the person’s stool and can spread when infected individual dispose his or her poop/waste near farmland or crops. When people do not wash the crops or cook them throughout, the roundworm enters a new host and starts its life cycle again. People can get contamination if they use if the use untreated feces as a fertilizer for the crops.
Ascariasis is contracted by drinking or eating contaminated water or food, especially if you do not frequently wash your hands. Children get contaminated by playing in the soil or plants and then placing their hands in their mouth.
People may start noticing symptoms as the infestation inside the small intestine grows. The Symptoms include:
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain or discomfort
- Worms visible in stool
- Weight loss
- Impaired growth in children
- Irregular bowel movements
In more advanced infestations, the worms travel to the lungs. The person experience the following if this occurs :
- Gaggling cough
- Discomfort in the chest
- Mucus with blood
- Shortness of breath
In few cases, a person can experience a complication known as aspiration pneumonia.
Doctors treat most cases of ascariasis with antiparasitic drugs. They can also consider additional treatment options for severe infestations. Doctors don’t aim to cure the infestation but to reduce the number of worms and eggs in individuals so as to relieve their symptoms. Doctors also suggest surgery as a good option if the infestation blocks a portion of the intestine.
People living in places with under developed sanitation have a very high risk of getting ascariasis while those living in modern sanitation have a very low risk. Prevention is also done by washing utensils and cooking surfaces after each use. People should take the following precautions when visiting regions with lack of proper sanitary facility:
- Boil and filter water before drinking
- Avoid common bathing areas
- Inspect and observe food preparations for cleanliness
- Wash hands with soap and running water before handling and eating food.