Thursday, October 18, 2007

roundworms

About 25% of the world’s population is infected with roundworms (that’s Ascaris lumbricoides

to the Latin scholars), which is even more disconcerting when you consider that one generally contracts roundworms by swallowing egg-ridden human feces. Once infected, the eggs hatch in the stomach and intestines, then migrate throughout the body.

Although completely disgusting, roundworms are only occasionally deadly - they can cause edema in the lungs; and the female worms, which can grow 18 inches long, sometimes perforate the intestines, leading to peritonitis.

But the most terrifying wormy complication involves anesthesia. Because worms find anesthesia irritating, they sometimes migrate up the trachea and nasal passages or down the intestines during surgery. It’s been reported, for instance, that one pregnant woman had several of the nematodes worm out of her nose and mouth while she was giving birth.

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