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DPDx - Laboratory Identification of Parasitic Diseases of

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[Ascaris lumbricoides]
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Adult female A. lumbricoides.

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CDC - DPDx - Ascariasis

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Unfertilized egg of A. lumbricoides in an unstained wet mount, 200x magnification.

Fertilized egg of A. lumbricoides in unstained wet mounts of stool, with embryos in the early stage of development.

Causal Agents
Ascaris lumbricoides is the largest nematode (roundworm) parasitizing the human intestine. (Adult
females: 20 to 35 cm; adult male: 15 to 30 cm.)

Life Cycle:

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Adult worms . live in the lumen of the small intestine. A female may produce approximately
200,000 eggs per day, which are passed with the feces . Unfertilized eggs may be ingested but are
not infective. Fertile eggs embryonate and become infective after 18 days to several weeks ,
depending on the environmental conditions (optimum: moist, warm, shaded soil). After infective eggs
are swallowed , the larvae hatch , invade the intestinal mucosa, and are carried via the portal,
then systemic circulation to the lungs . The larvae mature further in the lungs (10 to 14 days),
penetrate the alveolar walls, ascend the bronchial tree to the throat, and are swallowed . Upon
reaching the small intestine, they develop into adult worms . Between 2 and 3 months are required
from ingestion of the infective eggs to oviposition by the adult female. Adult worms can live 1 to 2

Geographic Distribution:
The most common human helminthic infection. Worldwide distribution. Highest prevalence in
tropical and subtropical regions, and areas with inadequate sanitation. Occurs in rural areas of the
southeastern United States.

Clinical Presentation
Although infections may cause stunted growth, adult worms usually cause no acute symptoms. High
worm burdens may cause abdominal pain and intestinal obstruction. Migrating adult worms may
cause symptomatic occlusion of the biliary tract or oral expulsion. During the lung phase of larval
migration, pulmonary symptoms can occur (cough, dyspnea, hemoptysis, eosinophilic pneumonitis Loeffler's syndrome).
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Content source: Global Health - Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria
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information and products presented on the site.

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