Ascariasis is a common parasitic infection that affects millions of people worldwide. It is caused by the roundworm Ascaris lumbricoides. Which is one of the most common intestinal parasites in humans. 

ascariasis lumbricoides_round_worm
The resected segment of the small intestine which is partly cut opened showing multiple creamy white adult worms filling the lumen.

In this section, we will provide an overview of Ascariasis infestation and explain what roundworms are.

Ascariasis Infestation

Ascariasis infestation is a type of parasitic infection, which occurs when the Ascaris lumbricoides worm enters the human body. The worm is typically acquired through the consumption of → contaminated food or water, or contact with contaminated soil. Once inside the body, the worm can grow up to 30 centimeters long and live for up to two years.

The symptoms of Ascariasis infestation can vary depending on the severity of the infection. Mild infections may not produce any symptoms at all. While more severe cases can cause → abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. In rare cases, the worm can migrate to other parts of the body. Which cause serious complications, such as → blockages in the bile duct or pancreas.

What Roundworms are?

Roundworms are a type of parasitic worm that belongs to the phylum Nematoda. These are also known as roundworms because of their long, cylindrical shape. They are found in a variety of environments, including → soil, water, and animals.

A roundworm taken from wet soil. The front of the worm is on the left, and the dark line visible at the end is its feeding apparatus, known as a stylet.

There are many different types of roundworms. They can infect a wide range of hosts, including → humans, animals, and plants. Some roundworms are beneficial, while others are harmful and can cause a variety of diseases.

In the case of Ascariasis, the roundworm Ascaris lumbricoides is the parasite responsible for the infection. This type of roundworm is commonly found in areas with poor sanitation, and it is spread through the ingestion of contaminated food or water.

In the following section, we will discuss the causes and transmission of Ascariasis (Round Worm).

Causes and Transmission of Ascariasis

Ascaris lumbricoides causes ascariasis. The infection is prevalent in areas with poor sanitation and hygiene practices.

ascariasis lifecycle
This is an illustration of the life cycle of Ascaris lumbricoides, the causal agent of ascariasis. Adult worms image live in the lumen of the small intestine. A female may produce approximately 200,000 eggs per day. Which are passed with the feces. Adult worms can live 1 to 2 years.

The following are three main modes of transmission:

Ingestion of roundworm eggs

The most common mode of transmission is through the ingestion of roundworm eggs. The eggs can be present in contaminated food, water, or soil. When a person ingests contaminated material, the eggs hatch in the small intestine, and the larvae migrate to the lungs and then to the small intestine.

Poor sanitation and hygiene practices


The lack of proper sanitation and hygiene practices is another major cause of Ascariasis. Poor sanitation can lead to the contamination of food and water sources. and Poor hygiene can lead to the spread of the infection from person to person.

Person-to-person transmission of ascariasis


In areas with poor sanitation, infected individuals may defecate in public spaces or in fields where crops are grown. This can lead to contamination of the environment, and when others come into contact with the contaminated feces, they can become infected with the roundworm eggs.

In the following section, we will discuss the symptoms of Ascariasis (Round Worm).

Symptoms of Ascariasis

Ascariasis, a common parasitic infection caused by roundworms, can cause a range of symptoms in infected individuals. These symptoms can be mild or severe, depending on the intensity of the infection and the individual’s immune response. The following are the most common symptoms of Ascariasis:

Abdominal pain and bloating


One of the most common symptoms of Ascariasis is → abdominal pain and bloating. Due to the accumulation of worms in the intestine. Which can cause irritation and inflammation of the intestinal lining. The pain is usually crampy and can be accompanied by bloating and discomfort.

Nausea and vomiting

Nausea and vomiting can also be a symptom of Ascariasis, particularly in cases where the infection is severe. This is because the presence of worms in the digestive tract can cause irritation and inflammation, leading to nausea and vomiting.

Diarrhea or constipation


Ascariasis can cause either diarrhea or constipation, depending on the location of the worms in the intestine. In some cases, the worms can obstruct the intestine, leading to constipation. In other cases, the worms can cause irritation and inflammation, leading to diarrhea.

Weight loss and malnutrition

Chronic Ascariasis infections can cause weight loss and malnutrition, particularly in children. This is because the worms consume the nutrients in the intestine, leading to malabsorption and malnutrition.

Worms in stool or vomit

In some cases, worms can be visible in the stool or vomit of infected individuals. This is a clear sign of Ascariasis, and individuals who notice worms in their stool or vomit should seek medical attention immediately.

In the following section, we will discuss the diagnosis and treatment of Ascariasis (Round Worm).

Diagnosis and Treatment of Ascariasis

Ascariasis can be diagnosed through a stool examination, where the presence of Ascaris eggs can be identified under a microscope. In some cases, imaging studies such as → X-rays or ultrasounds may be used to detect the worms in the intestines.

Stool sample analysis to detect roundworm eggs


Diagnosing Ascariasis is typically done through stool sample analysis to detect roundworm eggs. This is a relatively simple and non-invasive procedure that involves collecting a small sample of stool and examining it under a microscope.

During the stool sample analysis, a small amount of stool is collected and sent to a laboratory for examination. The sample is then examined under a microscope to identify any roundworm eggs that may be present. It is important to collect multiple stool samples on different days, as the eggs may not be present in every sample.

Antiparasitic medications to kill the worms

Antiparasitic medications are the primary treatment for Ascariasis. Several medications can effectively kill the worms and treat the infection. The most commonly used medications are:

  1. Albendazole: Albendazole is a broad-spectrum antiparasitic medication that is effective against many different types of worms, including Ascaris lumbricoides. It works by interfering with the worm’s ability to absorb nutrients, ultimately leading to its death.
  2. Mebendazole: Mebendazole is another broad-spectrum antiparasitic medication that is commonly used to treat Ascariasis. Like → albendazole, it works by interfering with the worm’s ability to absorb nutrients, leading to its death.
  3. Ivermectin: Ivermectin is another medication that is effective against Ascaris lumbricoides. It works by paralyzing the worm’s nervous system, which ultimately leads to its death.
  4. Pyrantel pamoate: Pyrantel pamoate is an antiparasitic medication that works by paralyzing the worms’ muscles, ultimately leading to their expulsion from the body.

The specific medication and dosage used will depend on several factors, including the severity of the infection and the age and weight of the patient. In most cases, a single dose of medication is sufficient to treat the infection. However, in more severe cases, multiple doses may be required.

It’s important to note that antiparasitic medications can have side effects, and patients should be closely monitored for any adverse reactions. Common side effects include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

Treatment for any complications or nutritional deficiencies

The treatment for Ascariasis typically involves the use of anti-parasitic medications, such as → albendazole or mebendazole. These medications work by killing the worms and preventing them from reproducing. In most cases, a single dose of medication is sufficient to treat the infection, although some individuals may require additional doses.

For individuals experiencing complications or nutritional deficiencies, additional medical treatment may be necessary. For example, individuals with pulmonary Ascariasis may require oxygen therapy or mechanical ventilation to support their breathing. Those with intestinal obstruction may require surgery to remove the worms and relieve the obstruction.

Individuals with malnutrition may require dietary supplementation to address their nutritional deficiencies. This may involve increasing their intake of vitamins and minerals through dietary changes or the use of supplements. In severe cases, hospitalization and intravenous feeding may be necessary to address the nutritional deficiencies.

In the following section, we will discuss the prevention of Ascariasis (Round Worm).

Prevention of Ascariasis

Ascariasis is a parasitic infection that can be prevented through several measures. Here are some easy-to-follow prevention tips that can be useful for both medical and non-medical students:

Proper sanitation and hygiene practices


Good sanitation and hygiene practices are crucial in preventing the spread of Ascariasis. This includes washing hands with soap and water before eating and after using the bathroom. It’s also important to ensure that waste is disposed of properly and that contaminated soil is not used for gardening.

Thoroughly cooking food and washing fruits and vegetables


The roundworm eggs that cause Ascariasis can be present in raw or undercooked meat, so it’s important to cook meat thoroughly to kill any potential parasites. Additionally, fruits and vegetables should be washed carefully to remove any soil or contamination.

Avoiding ingestion of soil or contaminated water


Ascaris lumbricoides eggs can be found in soil contaminated with human faeces, so it’s important to avoid ingesting dirt or drinking contaminated water. It’s recommended to drink clean, boiled water or water that has been treated with chlorine or iodine.

By following these simple preventive measures, you can significantly reduce your risk of contracting Ascariasis. Remember, prevention is always better than cure!

In the following section, we will discuss the complications of Ascariasis (Round Worm).


Ascariasis, if left untreated, can lead to many serious complications. Here are some of the most common complications associated with this parasitic infection:

Blockage of the Intestines or Bile Ducts

Bile Duct

Ascaris worms can grow up to 30 cm in length, which means they can cause blockages in the intestines or bile ducts. Intestinal obstruction occurs when the worms accumulate in the intestines, leading to a blockage that can cause severe pain, nausea, and vomiting. Bile duct obstruction can occur when the worms migrate to the liver and bile ducts, leading to jaundice and abdominal pain.

Peritonitis, a Serious Infection of the Abdominal Lining

Peritonitis is a serious complication of Ascariasis that occurs when the worms perforate(to make a hole or series of holes in something) the intestines or the bile ducts. This can lead to the leakage of intestinal contents into the abdominal cavity, causing a severe infection of the abdominal lining. Symptoms of peritonitis include severe abdominal pain, fever, and chills, and it requires immediate medical attention.

Bile ducts are a series of tubes that carry bile from the liver and gallbladder to the small intestine.

Malnutrition and Developmental Delays in Children

Ascariasis can lead to malnutrition and developmental delays in children, especially if the infection is left untreated. This is because the worms can compete with the host for nutrients, leading to a deficiency of essential vitamins and minerals. Children who are infected with Ascaris worms may experience stunted growth, weight loss, and cognitive delays.

Final Words on Ascariasis

Ascariasis is a parasitic infection caused by the roundworm Ascaris lumbricoides that affects millions of people worldwide. It can cause a variety of symptoms ranging from mild abdominal discomfort to severe respiratory distress.

The best way to prevent Ascariasis infestation is to maintain proper sanitation and hygiene practices, such as → washing hands before eating, cooking food thoroughly, and disposing of human waste properly. Educating communities about the importance of these practices is crucial to reducing the prevalence of Ascariasis and other parasitic infections. By taking these simple steps, we can work towards a healthier and more equitable global community.

Further Reading

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  1. Calicut Medical College, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
  2. DPDx is an educational resource designed for health professionals and laboratory scientists. For an overview including prevention, control, and treatment visit, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
  3. Mikael Häggström, M.D. Author info – Reusing images- Conflicts of interest:  NoneMikael Häggström, M.D.Consent note: Consent from the patient or patient’s relatives is regarded as redundant, because of absence of identifiable features (List of HIPAA identifiers) in the media and case information (See also HIPAA case reports guidance)., CC0, via Wikimedia Commons


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