Let’s be honest, you have to be unlucky to find yourself with a roundworm infestation. But, it’s possible, so we are going to talk about it.
Roundworms are a type of nematode, which are considered to be the most numerous form of multicellular organism on earth. They are parasites of a variety of different organisms, and the eggs are often found in soil.
Here is the most basic and important information that you need to know:
- Roundworm infection is most often caused by consuming something with contaminated soil. If you avoid consuming soil, you are already a step ahead of the rest.
- There are many species of roundworm. Just what you wanted to hear, right? For example, Toxocara roundworms are typically hosted by dogs and cats. The dog or cat does its business on the grass, the roundworms enter the soil, and you come by and eat the soil. Ok, so it probably won’t happen that way, but for children, this is certainly a risk. Also, if you are growing food near where these animals are doing their business, you are at risk, too.
- There is one roundworm infection that you can get from undercooked pork. This is why it is so imperative to thoroughly cook all pork products. Not doing so could lead to Trichinosis, an infection caused by Trichinella spiralis. This roundworm infection is particularly dangerous as the worms tend to enter the muscles, and it’s possible for them to live there for months and even years.
- Roundworm infection can present itself in different ways. Here is the part you really don’t want to hear. While some forms of roundworm infection are relegated to the intestines, other roundworm infections can cause more severe problems. For example, Ocular toxocariasis occurs when roundworm larvae have made it up to the eye. I won’t tell you the rest, but feel free to do a google image search of Ocular toxocariasis.
That covers the basics. Now let’s talk about prevention, symptoms and treatment.
Preventing roundworm infection
– If you have animals, follow your veterinarian’s suggested program for de-worming them
– Wash your hands often, and if you have kids, tell them to do the same
– Do not spend time in areas where animals or humans are defecating. Hard to understand that one, right?
– Make your all pork products are thoroughly cooked
– If you have a pet, and they are pooping in your lawn, make sure to clean up after them.
Signs and symptoms of roundworm infection
Most forms of roundworm infection are of the Ascariasis variety. This type of roundworm infection often does not produce symptoms. In fact, up to 85% of cases may not produce symptoms, because the number of worms is not significant enough.
In cases of Ascariasis that are symptomatic, abdominal pain, coughing, shortness of breath, blood in the stool, weight loss, and fatigue are all possible. In some particularly extreme cases, worms may be visible in the stool.
In cases of Trichinosis, diarrhea, abdominal pain, muscle pain, fever, pink eye, photosensitivity and fever are all possible symptoms. The muscle pain is due to the presence of the worms in the muscles, moving around (yikes).
Toxocariasis comes in two forms. As we already mentioned, ocular toxocariasis involves the eyes:
Visceral toxocariasis involves roundworms in organs throughout the body, including the liver, and in some cases, the central nervous system. Symptoms can include abdominal pain, coughing and wheezing, fatigue and fever, among other things.
The good news is that all roundworm infections can be treated with anti-parasitic medications. The trick is getting a proper diagnosis. As we said, many cases may be asymptomatic. This is why circumstantial evidence may be important, too. For example, were you in a developing world country and spending time near open latrines? The answer to that question may help your diagnosis more than anything else.
If you suspect that you have a roundworm infection for any reason, see a doctor immediately for a thorough examination.
Lastly, have a look at this video:
Feel free to share any roundworm related commentary in the comments below. For more information on the subject, see this article from the University of Maryland.