Common Diseases in Humans Ascariasis

What Is Ascaris?

Ascaris has several species but they are all almost a type of parasitic nematode worm. The giant roundworm that infects the human intestine by entering through the route of faecal-oral has the scientific name of Ascaris lumbricoides.  These can grow up to a length of 14 inches or around 35cm long and 2-6 mm wide (depending on the gender of the parasite) inside the host body and causes the disease of roundworms in humans. People are more affected by Ascariasis in areas with poor sanitation conditions, and it is a common infection occurring worldwide, which is more prevalent in tropical and subtropical countries. It is estimated that almost one-sixth of the human population gets infected by ascariasis disease.

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Roundworm Life Cycle

One of the characteristics of Ascaris is that the adult female organism releases the eggs, and at a time their uteri contain 27 million eggs, with almost 2 lakh eggs being laid by them every day for 12-18 months. The roundworm life cycle also has the step where the eggs are shed by the faeces of an infected person and flies might carry the eggs of the parasite to a healthy person. Fertilized eggs depend on the changes of the environmental conditions to an embryo and become infective in almost 18 days and they can persist in the optimum, moist, and shaded soil for ten years almost or more. 

The eggs of the parasite enter the human body from the mouth and are ingested through contaminated food or water. These eggs when it enters the body, then develops into a Rhabditiform larva and hatches and penetrates the gastrointestinal tract walls and enters into the bloodstream. 

These larvae move through the bloodstream and enter the lungs and break into the alveoli, after maturing the roundworms in a human move up the trachea where they are coughed up to be swallowed again, and this is how the eggs reach the small intestine. And after passing the stomach in three weeks, the roundworms in humans develop into adult female or male worms, and in the small intestine, they mate to lay more eggs. 

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Characteristics Of Ascaris

The characteristics of Ascaris, which is the human intestinal parasitic roundworms are:

  • The female Ascaris lays both unfertilized and fertilized eggs. The unfertilized eggs are more elongated and don’t have a thick lumpy outer coat. 

  • Fertilized eggs of Ascaris are tan-coloured, oval or round and have a tiny size and these are barely visible to the naked eye. These eggs are covered by a thick lumpy or mammillated outer coat. 

  • These roundworms in humans are characterized by their large sizes. 

  • The characteristics of Ascaris male have a ventrally curved posterior end, and the tail is bluntly pointed. The male intestinal roundworms are 15-31cm long and are 2-4mm in diameter.

  • A vulva is located in the anterior end of the female Ascaris’ body, and it accounts for one-third of the body length. The female intestinal roundworms have a body diameter of 3-6mm wide, and the body length is 20-49cm. 

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Classification Of Ascaris

The taxonomic classification of roundworm, Ascaris are:

Kingdom – Animalia (animals)

Eumetazoa (metazoans)

Bilateria (bilaterally symmetrical animal

Protostomia

Ecdysozoa

Phylum - Nematoda (roundworms)

Class – Secernentea

Order - Ascaridida     

Family – Ascarididae

Genus – Ascaris (intestinal roundworms)

Species – Ascaris lumbricoides (human intestinal roundworms) or Ascaris suum (pig intestinal roundworms)

Solved Examples

  1. What Are The Symptoms Of Ascariasis Caused By The Intestinal Roundworms?

Answer: With minor cases of Ascariasis, there are sometimes no symptoms at all, but on close inspection can be identified. But with the increased infestation of intestinal roundworms, one might need to receive medical treatment.

The Ascariasis Symptoms are

When an infestation of Ascaris grows in the Lungs, the following symptoms can happen:

  • Coughing

  • Gagging

  • Wheezing

Shortness 

  • of breadth

  • Sometimes rarely aspiration in pneumonia can happen

  • Blood in mucus

  • Chest discomfort

  • Fever

The increased infestation of intestinal roundworms (in the small intestine) can have the following symptoms:

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Irregular stools

  • Diarrhoea

  • Intestinal blockage with severe pain

  • Loss of appetite

  • Visible worms in the faeces

  • Abdominal pain or discomfort

  • Weight loss

  • Due to Malabsorption, growth might be impaired in children.

Fun Facts

  • Health care providers detect ascariasis disease by observing the patient's faeces under a microscope to search for eggs of Ascaris lumbricoides. Other tests like X-ray, CT scan and ultrasound are also done to diagnose ascariasis disease.

  • Other than tropical and subtropical places that have inadequate sanitization, the areas where human faeces are used as soil fertilizers have higher chances of ascariasis disease occurrence.

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) claimed that ten per cent of the developed world is also affected by intestinal worms.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What Are The Preventions To Be Taken For Ascariasis?

Answer: Acariasis is mostly treated with minimal medications unless there are any complications. Medicines that are popular for infestation of intestinal roundworm treatment include albendazole (Albenza), ivermectin (Stromectol), and mebendazole (Vermox). But as the saying goes that prevention is always better than the cure is also true, hence a few practices are to be adopted for the prevention of Ascariasis. The prevention measures include the practice of good hygiene by cleaning hands with soap and water before eating and after using the bathroom, eating at safe and clean places, avoiding the use or intake of unwashed and unpeeled raw fruits and vegetables in areas with poor sanitation, and drinking of purified or un-contaminated (clean) water.

2. What Are The Causes Of Ascariasis And The Methods Of Intestinal Roundworm Treatment?

Answer: Ascariasis is caused because of accidental ingestion of food or water containing the eggs of Ascaris. Also, children between three and eight years are most likely to get infected because unknowingly they put their hand inside the mouth after touching Ascaris egg contaminated area and suffer from Ascariasis.

In most cases of Ascariasis, there are mild or no problems, but in some cases, there is a requirement for the roundworm treatment because of the increase of complications. Children having a smaller intestinal size sometimes have to suffer from intestinal blockage which is dangerous and in some cases, even fatal. The mild cases of Ascariasis can be treated using home remedies or preferably physician instructed medicine. But for cases with complication, the intestinal roundworm treatment may also include surgery.