Helminthiasis: what you need to know about parasites?

Helminthiases are a large group of parasitic diseases caused by certain types of parasitic worms - intestinal worms. Most helminthiasis have similar clinical manifestations and methods of treatment.

Parasites: from ancient times to the present day

types of human parasites

Such common helminthiases as enterobiasis and ascariasis have long been known. The human invasion of bovine tapeworms and roundworms has been reported since the 16th century BC. Century mentions the ancient Egyptian medical dissertation - the Ebers papyrus. Hippocrates himself paid close attention to intestinal worms. He introduced concepts such as "helminthiasis" and "ascariasis. "

At the beginning of the eighteenth century, German microbiologist Karl Rudolfi collected a collection of whole parasitic worms by examining a large number of animals. The science of parasitic worms - helminthology - soon appeared.

In eight hundred and eighty-four, a famous scientist and physician established a causal relationship between parasitism in the human body of a broad tapeworm and patient anemia.

A prominent scientist and academic contributed greatly to the development and formation of helminthology, who organized the first department of parasitology and opened specialized institutions for the study of helminths. At his initiative, more than three hundred parasitological expeditions were carried out in which he was directly involved.

Parasitologists have described more than five hundred parasitic worms that were previously unknown to science. The doctor himself discovered and described more than two hundred new types of intestinal worms, and also published more than seven hundred scientific papers.

Incidentally, it is known that parasitic infections worsen the course of concomitant diseases, especially chronic, decompensated diseases. Helminthiases adversely affect growth, work capacity, and have a depressing effect on the immune system and the human nervous system.

Parasitic infection: types of worms

There are three major groups of intestinal worms - tapeworms (cestodes), roundworms (nematodes), fluff (trematodes). The nematodes are roundworms and the tapeworms and fluffy are flatworms. A person can be an intermediate or final host of parasites.

Pathogens of helminthiasis such as ascariasis, enterobiasis, trichinosis, ankylostomiasis, trichocephalosis, strongyloidiasis are nematodes. Cestodes include echinococcosis, alveococcosis, diphyllobothriasis, teniasis, teniarinchiasis, hymenolepiasis, and the like. And trematodes cause opisthorchiasis, clonorchiasis, paragonimiasis, metagonimiasis, fascioliasis, among others.

Depending on the localization of the parasites in the body, there are:

  • Transparent helminthiases.
  • Tissue helminthiases.
  • Hepatobiliary helminthiasis. In this case, the parasitic infection affects the liver, gallbladder and bile ducts (opisthorchiasis, clonorchiasis).
  • Pulmonary helminthiasis.

The following types of helminthiasis exist:

  • Geohelminthiasis. In this case, the parasite develops with the participation of an inanimate substrate (water, soil).
  • Infectious helminthiasis. Worms develop within a microorganism, such as in enterobiasis.
  • Biohelminthiasis is the development of intestinal worms with the participation of intermediate farmers. A typical example is the broad tapeworm, which has a complex development cycle and changes host.

Incidentally, it has been found that intestinal parasites in the body promote the release of Th2 cytokines, which suppress the Th1 cytokine. In this regard, people with helminthic infections are at higher risk for infection with one disease or another, such as tuberculosis.

Parasites in the body: the main syndromes

abdominal pain in the presence of parasites

The main clinical syndromes of helminthiasis are:

Malnutrition syndrome

It is known that the parasite, being in the human body, consumes the nutrients of its host, which in the latter can trigger the appearance of protein deficiency, hypovitaminosis, anemia. This often occurs when the body is affected by tapeworms and roundworms that parasitize the gut.

Immunosuppressive syndrome

If left in the body for a long time, intestinal worms can exert an immunosuppressive effect, reducing resistance to various microbial and viral infections.

Toxic-allergic organ damage

This is the whole spectrum of diseases - heart (myocarditis), liver (hepatitis), lungs (pneumonia), brain (encephalopathy). Until bleeding necrotic damage to internal organs.

Local tissue damage to organs

It most often dominates the chronic phase and is determined by the localization of the helminth. So hookworms and cestodes have a traumatic effect on the intestinal mucosa, the opisthorchis damages the bile ducts, schistosomes - the mucous membranes of the colon and urinary tract.

Incidentally, helminthiases have been shown to reduce the effectiveness of vaccination. Some helminths, such as schistosomes, opisthorchias, Chinese flukes, can provoke the development of carcinogenesis. This is evidenced by the so-called parasite theory of cancer. Long-term chronic opisthorchiasis, which can eventually lead to bile duct cancer, is particularly dangerous.

When should I see a doctor?

the doctor prescribes treatment for the parasites

An indication that a person has parasites in the body may include:

  • All kinds of allergic reactions, including unspecified recurrent urticaria, that do not go away even with the use of hormonal and desensitizing drugs.
  • Decreased, or on the contrary, increased appetite.
  • Exhaustion of the body.
  • Itching in the anal area - especially in the evening or at night.
  • Dyspeptic phenomena.
  • Unstable stools - diarrhea or constipation.
  • Prolonged dry cough (more often at night), in children - prolonged "barking" cough.
  • Increased levels of eosinophils in the blood - eosinophilia.
  • Anemia, especially B12 deficiency.
  • Asthenic syndrome - general weakness, fatigue, malaise. Of course, these symptoms can be attributed to various diseases. Nevertheless, with the child’s incomprehensible growing fatigue or mood, poor night’s sleep, nervousness - it makes sense to do a study on the parasites.

If any of the above signs are present, this is a reason to consult a parasitologist or infectious disease doctor.