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Roundworm (Ascaris Lumbricoides) Infestation

What are roundworms?

Roundworms (Ascaris Lumbricoides) cause the most common human worm infestation. The infestation is known as ascariasis. The adult female can measure up to 18 inches long whereas the males are generally shorter. The adult worm lives in the small intestine and the eggs are passed in the faeces. The eggs may live in the soil for even years.

How is it transmitted?

The ascaris eggs are transmitted from hand to mouth. When a child plays in the dirt and puts the unclean hand in his/her mouth, he/she can get the infection. Alternatively, ingesting food or water contaminated with the round worm eggs results in the infection.

What are the symptoms?

  • Many children do not have symptoms.
  • Some children have vague or intermittent abdominal pain.
  • Heavy infection with the worms may result in partial or complete blockage of the intestine resulting in severe abdominal pain and vomiting.
  • Occasionally the worm is passed out in the stools or vomited out.

What are the complications?

Blockage of the intestine or bile ducts can occur. Rarely, complications related to a number of other organs have also been noted.

How do you know if your child has roundworm infestation?

If your child passes out worms or roundworm eggs in the stools, then your child has the infestation.

How is it treated?

It can be effectively treated with oral medication for 1 – 3 days. (Albendazole for 1 day or Mebendazole for 3 days).

Can roundworm infestation be prevented?

Prevention is achieved if you:

  • Wash hands thoroughly before handling food.
  • Avoid contact with soil that may be contaminated with human faeces.
  • Dispose of diapers properly.
  • Avoid food or water that may be contaminated when travelling to countries with poor sanitation and hygiene.
Last reviewed : 28 August 2020
Content Writer : Dr. R. Sukumar a/l Rajaretnam
Reviewer : Dr. Zainab bt. Kusiar