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cellular organisms - Eukaryota - Fungi/Metazoa group - Metazoa - Eumetazoa - Bilateria - Pseudocoelomata - Nematoda - Chromadorea - Ascaridida - Ascaridoidea - Ascarididae - Ascaris - Ascaris lumbricoides
- Together with human hookworms (Ancylostoma duodenale and Necator americanus also described at MetaPathogen) and whipworms (Trichuris trichiura), Ascaris lumbricoides (human roundworms) belong to a group of so-called soil-transmitted helminths that represent one of the world's most important causes of physical and intellectual growth retardation.
- Today, ascariasis is among the most important tropical diseases in humans with more than billion infected people world-wide. Ascariasis is mostly seen in tropical and subtropical countries because of warm and humid conditions that facilitate development and survival of eggs. The majority of infections occur in Asia (up to 73%), followed by Africa (~12%) and Latin America (~8%).
- Ascaris lumbricoides is one of six worms listed and named by Linnaeus. Its name has remained unchanged up to date.
- Ascariasis is an ancient infection, and A. lumbricoides have been found in human remains from Peru dating as early as 2277 BC. There are records of A. lumbricoides in Egyptian mummy dating from 1938 to 1600 BC. Despite of long history of awareness and scientific observations, the parasite's life cycle in humans, including the migration of the larval stages around the body, was discovered only in 1922 by a Japanese pediatrician, Shimesu Koino.
- Unlike the hookworm, whose third-stage (L3) larvae actively penetrate skin, A. lumbricoides (as well as T. trichiura) is transmitted passively within the eggs after being swallowed by the host as a result of fecal contamination.
- Ascaris lumbricoides is the largest human intestinal nematode, growing up to 35 cm in length and 0.5 cm in diameter.
- Ascariasis is classified by severity of manifestations, which usually correlates with parasite burden. Five types are recognized: type A is often asymptomatic, type B causes permanent growth retardation in children, type C is clinically overt and is characterized by intermittent abdominal pain, nausea, anorexia, diarrhea, type D includes acute complications that often require hospitalization (intestinal obstructions, biliary ascariasis, appendicitis, etc.), type E is most severe frequently fatal disease.
- The occurrence of As. lumbricoides usually peaks in childhood and early adolescence.
- Soil-transmitted helminths do not reproduce within the host: in order to be infective their eggs have to be released into environment where they are embryonated (roundworms, whipworms) or hatch into infective larvae (hookworms). Usually the eggs as well as the larvae do not enter the same host (the host, who released them). This feature is crucial for understanding of the epidemiology and methods of control (compare with pinworm, Enterobius vermicularis, (pinworm) at MetaPathogen).
List of human helminths at MetaPathogen (new page)
(~12 human parasitic worms, transmission, symptoms, references)
Roundworms are dioecious, with male and female organs in separate individuals, and have a direct life cycle (no intermediate hosts). They mate in host's small intestine and the females produce eggs.
Single female roundworm can lay up to 240,000 eggs per day.
Eggs are passed to the environment with feces.
- Non-infective egg Non-infective, non-embryonated eggs, are released into environment in the feces.
- Infective egg In about 20 days, after embryo development, the eggs becomes infective; under adequate conditions, these eggs maintain their viability for up to 1 year; they are resistant to many noxious chemicals including acids and a number of commercial detergents; eggs are disseminated by rain, wind, with insects (flies), birds, and other animals; infection in human occurs by ingestion of eggs through contaminated food or water, or lack of personal hygiene.
Worms hatch in intestine and undergo several moltings before
developing into egg-laying adults.
- Larvae in small
intestine Eggs hatch upon reaching the host's small intestine and penetrate the intestinal wall.
- Larvae in liver Larvae migrate to the hepatic portal circulation invading liver in ~1-2 days after infection.
- Larvae in lungs L3 larvae migrate up the trachea and are swallowed after induced coughing.
- Larvae in small
intestine L3 larvae reach the intestinal lumen after 8-9 days after infection where they molt twice and mature at 2-3 months after infection.
- Larvae in small
- Mature adult After 2 moltings the parasites mature into adults and mate; life span of actively feeding and egg-laying adult females is up to 2 years; dead or paralyzed worms are expelled from the anus.
|Albendazole||Tablets (200 and 400 mg); oral suspension||Single dose of 400 mg is effective; ovicidal; poorly absorbed by the host - acts directly on parasites; similarly effective against pinworm and somewhat effective against other helminths||fetal toxicity was reported in animals|
|Mebendazole||Tablets (200 and 500 mg); oral suspension||Single dose of 500 mg is effective; ovicidal; poorly absorbed by the host - acts directly on parasites; effective against other helminths||Fetal toxicity was reported in animals|
|Levamisole||Tablets (40 mg)||Single dose; highly effective against ascariasis||Not that effective against other helminths; not ovicidal; contraindicated during first trimester of pregnancy|
|Pyrantel pamoate||Tablets (250 mg)||Also highly effective against pinworm||Not that effective against other helminths; not ovicidal; containdicated during first trimester of pregnancy|
|Ivermectin||Tablets, suspensions||Broad spectrum antiparasitic; convenient; few side effects||Expensive; lack of sufficient safety data|
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- Bradley JE, Jackson JA. Immunity, immunoregulation and the ecology of trichuriasis and ascariasis. Parasite Immunol. 2004 Nov-Dec;26(11-12):429-41. PMID: 15771679
- Bethony J et al. Soil-transmitted helminth infections: ascariasis, trichuriasis, and hookworm. Lancet. 2006 May 6;367(9521):1521-32. Review.
- Massara CL, Enk MJ. Treatment options in the management of Ascaris lumbricoides. Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2004 Mar;5(3):529-39.
- Cox FE. History of human parasitology. Clin Microbiol Rev. 2002 Oct;15(4):595-612.
- Shah OJ, Zargar SA, Robbani I. Biliary ascariasis: a review. World J Surg. 2006 Aug;30(8):1500-6.
- Park MS et al. Intestinal parasitic infection. Abdom Imaging. 2008 Mar-Apr;33(2):166-71. Review.
- Free full text articles in PubMed: major topic "Ascaris lumbricoides"
- Center for Desease Control and Prevention: Ascaris infection