Which Came First...The Worm or the Egg?
Living most of its life
in the small intestine, Ascaris lumbricoides is the largest and
one of the most common roundworms found in human intestines. Although
many believe it can be “caught” from animals such as
dogs and cats, it is almost exclusively found in human beings, although
it is sometimes seen in pigs. Beginning its life as an egg, this
worm is usually contracted via unwashed fruits or vegetables, dirty
hands, or unfiltered water; however, it can also be inhaled.
After being ingested, the Ascaris lumbricoides eggs pass through
the stomach and enter the first part of the small intestine. Once
here, the eggs hatch. The larvae then burrow into the intestine
until they reach blood vessels, and then they hitch a ride on the
stream of blood flowing through the veins. Once they have passed
through the liver and heart, Ascaris lumbricoides larvae then emerge
and grow in the lungs of the infected person. The process until
this point takes about nine days. Once in the lungs, the can be
coughed up, and many are accidentally or unknowingly swallowed during
this process. Those that are swallowed then return to the small
intestine to mature and lay eggs, which are then released in the
feces of the infected person to begin the cycle again.
If you think that you or someone you know may be infected, then
you should consult your health professional immediately, as Ascaris
lumbricoides can cause malnutrition, damage to internal organs,
and even learning problems.