Dangerous “lodgers”: how to identify helminths

It’s no secret that parasites are ubiquitous. These “lodgers” are not picky about the place of residence and “gladly” inhabit the body of both animals and humans. In a “new apartment” such tenants behave extremely quietly, without attracting special attention. And the consequences of their residence may become a reason for surgical intervention. How to suspect a helminthiasis infection? And how to confirm the assumption?

What are
Helminths are divided into 3 main groups:

flukes (trematodes),
round (nematodes).
The most significant helminthiases of the first group in Russia are fasciollosis (liver fluke), opisthorchiasis (cat fluke), clonorchiasis (Chinese fluke). Of the second, the most common are diphyllobothriasis (broad tapeworm), teniarinhoz (bovine tapeworm), teniasis (pork tapeworm), echino- and alveoloccoccosis. And representatives of the third group are “known” for ascariasis, enterobiasis and trichinosis.

“Where” you can get infected

The geography of helminthiases is extremely diverse and also has a territorial reference.

The risk of contracting fasciollosis (hepatic fluke) increases with eating:

insufficiently processed aquatic plants (algae, etc.),
cattle liver
and water from open reservoirs.
Opisthorchiasis (feline fluke) and clonorchiasis (Chinese fluke) “live” in fish, and paragonismosis is “carried” by crayfish.

The risk of invasion is primarily associated with products imported from countries endemic for trematodes – “representatives” of East Asia (China, Korea, Japan, etc.) and South America. But it is also found in those regions of Russia where fishing is widely developed.

Another “fish” helminthiasis is diphyllobothriasis. Infection occurs when eating poorly salted, dried or smoked fish, raw fish mince and freshly salted caviar.

The sources of bovine and pork tapeworm are obvious.

Echinococcosis occurs when eating unwashed garden crops, vegetables and fruits, and alveolokokkosis – wild berries and herbs, or water from open reservoirs.

Round worms
Ascariasis and enterobiasis are ubiquitous, and the source of infection can be:

unwashed vegetables and fruits,
household items;
“dirty hands”.
And infection with trichinosis is possible only when eating the meat of wild boars, pigs, bears and seals, more often in the form of bacon, bacon, brisket and sausages.

What are the symptoms?
Most of the listed helminths parasitize in the intestines or liver of the “host”. However, depending on the representative and the form of existence (egg, larva, adult), they are capable of infecting many other organs.

The lungs, brain, skeletal muscles and even the heart can be “hit”. And the first symptoms depend on the localization of the parasite.

Inhabiting the intestines, helminths consume nutrients, vitamins and minerals, which inevitably leads to:

gastrointestinal disorders (chronic stool disorders, abdominal seething, gas and bloating),
general symptoms of exhaustion and intoxication (weakness, fatigue, deterioration of the condition of the skin, hair and nails, frequent headaches, irritability),
allergic reactions of unknown origin.
Echino- and alveococci, as well as various flukes, most often affect the liver, provoking:

and heaviness in the right hypochondrium (especially after eating fatty foods),
and in severe cases, yellowing of the skin and mucous membranes (signs of hepatitis and cholecystitis).
Alveococcus – often penetrates into the lungs, accompanied by frequent bronchopulmonary diseases, a debilitating cough and attacks of shortness of breath, similar to bronchial asthma.

The “classic” localization of Trichinella is skeletal muscle. The disease most often begins with a rise in temperature and flu-like symptoms, to which later pains in the calf, chewing and lumbar muscles are added.

Waste products of helminths, regardless of where they live in the body, have a detrimental effect on the state of the central nervous system. Insomnia, increased irritability, decreased memory and attention are the “natural” results of such an impact. And some of the types of worms are able to penetrate directly into the brain.

How to identify
Diagnosis of helminthiasis today is a serious global problem. The absence of any specific signs practically does not allow us to assume an invasion at an early stage, and the frequency of erased symptoms further exacerbates the situation.

The justifications for a full examination for parasites in the domestic clinical guidelines are extremely scarce. And the presence of helminths often becomes an accidental finding during an ultrasound or CT scan for another disease.

In such a situation, the responsibility for their “worm-free” health falls on the patient himself. And you can check yourself for the presence of parasites using several laboratory methods at once:

1.Traditional analysis of feces for worm eggs

This study has a rather low information content and sensitivity, due to the peculiarities of the life cycle of parasites and the methodology of conducting; and is increasingly losing its relevance in modern medicine.

2. Study of feces for protozoa and helminth eggs using the PARASEP method

The method allows detecting even the minimum number of parasite eggs in the material, which favorably distinguishes it from the traditional form of analysis.

However, it is worth noting that the analysis is still not suitable for detecting enterobiasis. And for more informational content, it is recommended to take the test three times, with an interval of 3-5 days.

3.Blood for antibodies to parasites

Tracking the complex cycle of growth and reproduction of parasites is often not possible even with the most modern methods for diagnosing feces. Whereas immunity, in most cases, still reacts to the invasion of the pathogen.

The presence of class G antibodies to a particular type of helminth indicates contact between the body and the parasite. That, most often, confirms the presence of helminthiasis (even in the “dormant” form), but cannot confirm or deny the activity of the parasite at the present time.

You can pass the examination both separately for each of the pathogens of interest, and in the format of the “Diagnostics of Parasitic Diseases” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parasitic_disease complex.

And the combined “use” of feces and blood tests significantly increases their diagnostic value.

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