Helminthes Infections: Health Implications, Diagnosis And Prophylaxis Of Helminthiasis
How Hookworms Are Classified As Helminths
The General Clinical Overview Of Helminthic Infections
Helminthes constitute the most widespread parasites affecting man all over the world. In India, the problem of helminthes is a serious one leading to considerable morbidity, mortality and economic retardation. Ascariasis, ancylostomiasis, schistosomiasis and filariasis are the most widespread helminthic parasites affecting extensive geographical belts and millions of people. In many poor communities helminthiasis may be evident even at the age of 1 year, it reaches its maximum by the age of 10 to 12 years and then its severity declines.
Helminthes affecting man can be divided into three groups- round worms (nematodes), tape words (cestodes) and flukes (trematodes). The helminthes have well developed reporductory, excretory and nervous systems and many also possess alimentary tracts. They have complex life cycles and for the majority of parasitic helminthes, the reproductive and transmission cycles require the presence of two or more hosts. Both the adults and the larvae are capable of producing disease depending on the parasite. Several mechanisms operate to produce lesions. These are: competition for nutrients, eg, A. lumbricoides; physical presence in organs, eg, F. hepatica; tissue inflammation eg, Schistosomes; or loss of blood eg, A. duodenale. Some produce lesions by their mass effects eg, hydatid disease and cysticercosis. Allergy plays a part in producing symptoms during the stages of larval development. In many cases, mild to moderate eosinophilia may develop. This reflects the immunological reaction of the host. Eosinophils have probably a protective role, since they are seen to accumulate around helminthic larvae and destroy them, eg, filarial.
Zoonotic Helminths Affecting The Human Eye
Diagnosis And Prophylaxis Of Helminthes
Diagnosis Of Helminthes
Helminthiasis is diagnosed in the vast majority of instances by the demonstration of the adults, larvae or eggs in appropriate specimens. Indirect methods include immunological test like skin tests and complement fixation tests or more specific tests like immunoelectrophoresis and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).
Prophylaxis Of Helminthes
Many subjects harbouring worms acquire heavy worm loads due to the long lifespan of the parasites and repeated infection. Effective anthelmintics can produce temporary reduction or elimination of the worm-load, but reinfection occurs if the subject continues to live in the same environment. Even regular periodic deworming fails to eradicate helminthes from communities, unless simultaneous steps are taken to improve environmental sanitation. Strict personal hygiene, proper disposal of excreta and provision of potable water supplies are most important to ensure freedom from helminthic infestations.
© 2014 Funom Theophilus Makama