Ascariasis is a debilitating human disease caused by the parasitic roundworm Ascaris lumbricoides. Perhaps as many as one quarter of the world’s people are infected, and ascariasis is particularly prevalent in tropical regions and in areas of poor hygiene. Other species of the genus Ascaris are parasitic and can cause disease in domestic animals.
Infection occurs through ingestion of food contaminated with fecal matter containing Ascaris eggs. The larvae hatch, burrow through the intestine, reach the lungs, and finally migrate up the respiratory tract. From there they are then reswallowed and mature in the intestine, growing up to 30 cm (12 in.) in length and anchoring themselves to the intestinal wall.
Infections are usually accompanied by inflammation, fever, and diarrhea, and serious problems may develop if the worms migrate to other parts of the body.
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