Behaviour

Infection

People become infected with Ascaris worms when they ingest Ascaris eggs.

This can happen when:

  • children play in soil which contains Ascaris eggs
  • people consume food or water which is contaminated with eggs
  • people eat soil - this is common is some communities

Signs and symptoms

Some people with Ascaris infections are asymptomatic. The severity of disease depends on how many worms are living in the gut.

Chronic Ascaris infections can cause:

  • diarrhoea
  • abdominal pain
  • malnutrition
  • intestinal obstruction - this is extremely serious
  • stunted growth
  • learning difficulties

Disease control

Efforts to control ascariasis include:

  • improving sanitation, for example making sure latrines are available
  • mass distribution of deworming drugs

Treatment

The World Health Organisation recommends these drugs for treatment of ascariasis:

  • Albendazole
  • Mebendazole
  • Levamisole
  • Pyrantel

Museum research

Scientists are researching Ascaris worms and the people they infect to determine:

  • who is infected
  • how people respond to treatment
  • how the disease is spread
  • whether the same worms can infect humans and pigs