Ascariasis

  • Medical Author:
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Roundworm Symptoms, Transmission & Treatment

Roundworms, also known as nematodes, are a common term for parasites that comprise the phylum Nematoda that contain mainly free-living species and are located everywhere on earth. Roundworms are not ringworm, which is a fungal infection. Researchers estimate there may be as many as 500,000 species, but only about 60 species infect man and animals as parasites. The most commonly identified parasites that use us and some animals as food for survival, multiplication, and spread (transmission to others) are termed ascariasis, trichuriasis, hookworm, enterobiasis, strongyloidiasis, filariasis, and trichinosis. Each nematode has a life cycle that can be complex. Many have only part of their cycle completed in humans and animals.

Ascariasis facts

  • Ascariasis is a disease caused by a parasite named Ascaris lumbricoides.
  • Ascaris lumbricoides is a large nematode (roundworm) that infects the human gastrointestinal tract; the adults are visible to the naked eye and can reach over 12 inches in length.
  • Ascariasis is caused by the parasites as they proceed through their life cycle in humans.
  • Risk factors for ascariasis infection include living in and/or visiting tropical and subtropical areas along with poor hygiene and eating or drinking contaminated foods.
  • Signs and symptoms of ascariasis may include the following:
  • Diagnosis is usually done by detecting characteristic Ascaris lumbricoides eggs in feces with a microscope; other tests may also be done (X-rays, ultrasound, for example).
  • Treatment is oral medication for about one to three days in patients who do not have additional complications.
  • Treatment may be done by primary-care doctors; patients who have complications may need specialists such as infectious-disease specialists, lung specialists, and/or surgery specialists.
  • There are many home remedies for ascariasis, but a patient should discuss their use with a doctor before attempting these remedies.
  • Most of the complications of ascariasis occur in the gastrointestinal tract with obstruction of the G.I. tract as a major complication; other organs may also be involved.
  • The prognosis for ascariasis that is diagnosed and treated appropriately is very good. The prognosis worsens if complications develop; ascariasis may also increase fertility in women.
  • It's possible to prevent ascariasis by avoiding contaminated food and water sources and by good hygiene and eating only cooked hot food while traveling.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/3/2016

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