As you know, parasites are considered the most resistant organisms to the external environment. To date, about 250 species are recognized as helminths capable of infecting humans. All of them pose a threat to health, and in more severe cases - to the life of the infected. Knowledge about the types of helminths in humans and their characteristics greatly facilitates treatment and helps to draw up an effective preventive plan.
What kind of worms do humans have?
It takes a lot of time to fully familiarize yourself with the types of worms. The fact is that, until now, scientists cannot provide the most detailed information on the classification of parasites. This is due to a greater extent to the fact that a certain area is characterized by the presence of specific helminthic invasions. In this regard, it is almost impossible to obtain data on all types of human helminths existing on Earth.
Thus, the worms, most often diagnosed in the southern zone, are practically not found in the population of the northern geographic regions. For the temperate climatic zone and middle latitudes, about 20 varieties of worms are recognized as the most common. They can be conditionally divided into 3 main categories:
- Round parasitic worms (nematodes).
- Tape helminths (cestodes).
- Flat worms (trematodes).
1. Round and flat helminths
Each of the above groups includes a huge variety of parasitic organisms that require a brief description. In children and adults, most often it is necessary to treat such representatives of worms belonging to the class of trematodes:
- Chinese fluke;
- cat fluke;
- liver fluke.
Among the nematodes, there are 7 of the most famous and common parasite species that inhabit the body of any age. The roundworms that are transmitted by any means possible are:
- intestinal acne;
2. Cestode invasions
Tapeworms (or cestodes) are parasitic worms that pose the greatest threat to the body. Diagnosis of such helminthic infestations occurs much less frequently than infections with round parasites in children and adults, but infection with the following types of worms is fraught with the most serious consequences:
- bullish tapeworm;
- dwarf tapeworm;
- pork tapeworm;
- wide ribbon;
- rat tapeworm.
One of the rarest types of helminthic invasions is acanthocephalus. These include the giant ridge and the beaded ridge. Such worms are able to enter the body in the most infrequent cases, for example, when eating an insect or its larva infected with parasites.
Why are worms dangerous for humans?
In order to adequately assess the degree of threat to the patient's health in the event of a helminth settlement, it is first necessary to determine what types of worms they belong to. The treatment and its duration are determined depending on the type of worms. The main harm from the presence of parasites in the body is felt by the intestines - the majority of all helminths are localized in this organ. All nutrients that should be absorbed and benefit a person are selected by worms.
Meanwhile, other types of worms do not just settle in the intestines and "steal" all the necessary valuable microelements from humans. They multiply actively and affect other vital human organs and systems. In addition to the heart muscle, liver and lungs, worms can cause tremendous damage to the brain and blood vessels. Worms can even infect the eyes.
Main ways of worm infection
You can protect yourself and your loved ones from the onset of the disease if you know how helminths of a particular species enter the body. This is the only way to take all the necessary measures in a timely manner and minimize the risk of infection. It is known about the main routes of transmission that:
- Infection occurs through soil and water. When walking on the ground with bare feet, the risk of laying eggs inside increases several times. An unverified source of drinking and in common cases even water from a common water supply can contain worm larvae.
- Helminth eggs enter the body along with animal products. The result of helminthic invasions is insufficient or poor-quality processing of meat, fish, seafood, eggs. People who prefer exotic Asian cuisine are at risk of contracting worms. He, sushi, sashimi are based on raw fish and meat.
- Some types of parasites can settle in the intestine, having got into it together with unwashed vegetables and fruits. Refusal from animal products does not solve the problem of the likelihood of developing helminthiasis. Worm eggs, as mentioned, can be found in the soil. It is recommended to pour over any fruits with boiling water before use.
- Worms are transmitted to humans and from animals. Pets do not often become a source of infection for their owners. However, worms can be found both inside the animal and on its fur. From dogs and cats, the eggs of parasites fall into the soil, spreading further with melt water.
Transmission of parasites from sick people
Worms can also move from one infected person to another. There are several ways of transmission of helminthic invasions:
- through unwashed hands (for example, when shaking hands, hugging);
- when using common utensils;
- when wearing someone else's underwear;
- group application of personal hygiene products by several people.
Pinworm eggs most often pass from person to person, which often fall under the nail plates, staying there for a long time. The prevalence of this type of worms in children is explained by the neglect of the elementary rules of cleanliness. A child can simply pull his hands into his mouth or bite his nails, so pinworms have no difficulty in penetrating a new human body. The task of parents at this stage is to timely recognize the signs of helminthiasis and prevent the development of helminthic invasions in their baby, immediately starting to treat the disease.
Symptoms of the acute stage of helminthiasis
It is not easy to detect early signs of a parasitic infection in an adult or child. Diagnosis of the presence of worms is complicated by the fact that the incubation period in some species can last up to one and a half years.
As a rule, the first symptoms of worm infestation appear after different periods of time. In addition, the course of helminthiasis can be conditionally divided into 2 stages:
- acute stage (lasts on average no more than two months after the incubation period);
- chronic (characterized by the development of sexually mature parasites and can last for decades).
In the acute phase of invasion, the main, clearly expressed symptom can be called an allergic reaction. As a result of the production of antibodies on the migration of parasitic larvae, pathological manifestations on the skin should be alerted. An indicator of infection with any kind of worms in humans is the following symptoms:
- hyperemia of the skin;
- burning sensation and itching;
- small rashes on the surface of the epidermis or mucous membranes;
- slight increase in lymph nodes;
- local swelling;
- sternum pain (up to attacks of suffocation);
- vomiting and persistent nausea;
- diarrhea or constipation.
In addition, such dangerous pathologies as pneumonia, meningoencephalitis, hepatitis can become complications of the appearance in the body of other creatures.
A reliable confirmation of the presence of helminths in the internal organs is the index of eosinophils in the clinical blood test. The increased value of these particles is caused by dysproteinemia - a violation of the normal numerical proportion between protein fractions.
Types of symptoms in the chronic form of the disease
The signs of chronic helminthiasis in humans are predetermined by the localization of the colonization of parasites. In simple words: the manifestations of the disease will depend on which organ will become the main habitat for a particular type of worm.
In particular, the most common parasitism in the intestines of roundworms can even proceed without the slightest symptoms. If larger species are affected by worms, signs of the disease will become noticeable as soon as the worms reach puberty. Dyspeptic disorders in an adult and a child, pain syndrome and neurotic manifestations are their characteristic features. Ascariasis is often characterized by the development of intestinal obstruction and pancreatitis, and the risk of oncological diseases increases.
Medicines against parasites
It is necessary to undergo helminthiasis treatment at the earliest possible stage. An effective therapy will be if, before starting it, you know exactly what kind of parasite has settled in the body. There are plenty of anthelminthic drugs today.
These are different types of drugs that can target a specific type of worm. Stronger worm medicines are broad-spectrum medicines and are excellent for the treatment of combined helminthiasis. Both are considered toxic, have a lot of side effects and contraindications. The use of such drugs should be carried out with extreme caution only after a medical recommendation.
Most types of worms in an adult take a long time and persistently. Often, parasitologists prescribe the simultaneous administration of several antihelminthic drugs.
The regimen and dosage of a specific drug should be drawn up exclusively by a specialist. This will help to avoid allergies and serious side effects. For some types of helminthic infection, treatment must be repeated. This is often due to the fact that during the first therapy most of the adult worms were neutralized, but some forms of larvae and helminthic eggs still remain in the patient's body. If not treated again, the worms will return again.
Basic Prevention Measures
Drug therapy is undoubtedly an important part of the process of getting rid of, and in some cases, prevention of parasites. However, in order to cope with invasive worms, it is necessary to follow the simplest rules for preventing worms. Treatment will not work if you ignore the following rules:
- Wash hands often, especially after using the toilets and before eating food.
- If it is not possible to clean the skin of your hands with soap, it is advisable to use wet antibacterial wipes.
- Any food must be rinsed thoroughly before cooking.
- It is important to expose meat and fish to prolonged heat exposure.
- Use only water from trusted sources for drinking.
- At least once a year, it is extremely important to be tested for worms.