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Parasitic worms, also known as helminths,[1] are large macroparasites; adults can generally be seen with the naked eye. Many are intestinal worms that are soil-transmitted and infect the gastrointestinal tract. Other parasitic worms such as schistosomes reside in blood vessels.

Some parasitic worms, including leeches and monogeneans, are ectoparasites - thus, they are not classified as helminths, which are endoparasites.

Parasitic worms live in and feed in living hosts. They receive nourishment and protection while disrupting their hosts' ability to absorb nutrients. This can cause weakness and disease in the host. Parasitic worms cannot reproduce entirely within their host's body; they have a life cycle that includes some stages that need to take place outside of the host.[2] Helminths are able to survive in their mammalian hosts for many years due to their ability to manipulate the host's immune response by secreting immunomodulatory products.[3] All parasitic worms produce eggs during reproduction. These eggs have a strong shell that protects them against a range of environmental conditions. The eggs can therefore survive in the environment for many months or years.

Many of the worms referred to as helminths are intestinal parasites. An infection by a helminth is known as helminthiasis, helminth infection, or intestinal worm infection. There is a naming convention which applies to all helminths: the ending "-asis" (or in veterinary science: "-osis") is added at the end of the name of the worm to denote the infection with that particular worm.[citation needed] For example, Ascaris is the name of a type of helminth, and ascariasis is the name of the infection caused by that helminth.

Parasitic worms have been used as a medical treatment for various diseases, particularly those involv

Parasitic worms have been used as a medical treatment for various diseases, particularly those involving an overactive immune response.[31] As humans have evolved with parasitic worms, proponents argue they are needed for a healthy immune system.[31] Scientists are looking for a connection between the prevention and control of parasitic worms and the increase in allergies such as hay-fever in developed countries.[31] Removal of parasitic worms from areas is correlated with an increase in autoimmune disorders in those areas. [32] Parasitic worms may be able to damp down the immune system of their host, making it easier for them to live in the intestine without coming under attack.[31] This may be one mechanism for their proposed medicinal effect.

One study suggests a link between the rising rates of metabolic syndrome in the developed worlds and the largely successful efforts of Westerners to eliminate intestinal parasites. The work suggests eosinophils (a type of white blood cell) in fat tissue play an important role in preventing insulin resistance by secreting interleukin 4, which in turn switches macrophages into "alternative activation". Alternatively-a

One study suggests a link between the rising rates of metabolic syndrome in the developed worlds and the largely successful efforts of Westerners to eliminate intestinal parasites. The work suggests eosinophils (a type of white blood cell) in fat tissue play an important role in preventing insulin resistance by secreting interleukin 4, which in turn switches macrophages into "alternative activation". Alternatively-activated macrophages are important to maintaining glucose homeostasis (i.e., blood sugar regulation). Helminth infection causes an increase in eosinophils. In the study, the authors fed rodents a high-fat diet to induce metabolic syndrome, and then injected them with helminths. Helminth infestation improved the rodents' metabolism.[33] The authors concluded:

Although sparse in blood of persons in developed countries, eosinophils are often elevated in individuals in rural developing countries where intestinal parasitism is prevalent and metabolic syndrome rare. We speculate that eosinophils may have evolved to optimize metabolic homeostasis during chronic infections by ubiquitous intestinal parasites….[33]

Helminth eggs contained in wastewater, sewage sludge or human excreta are not always infectious, i.e. able to cause the disease helminthiasis. Fertilized eggs and unfertilized eggs can exist side by side. Unfertilized eggs are identifiable under the microscope by their elongated shape. No larvae can hatch from these kinds of eggs. Therefore, unfertilized eggs do not pose a danger to human health.

Sanitation

coagulation-flocculation are employed.[34][35] Therefore, waste stabilization ponds (lagoons), storage bassins, constructed wetlands, rapid filtration or upflow anaerobic sludge blanket (UASB) reactors can be used. These conventional wastewater treatment processes do not inactivate the helminth ova but only removes them from the wastewater and moves them to the sewage sludge.

Helminth ova cannot be inactivated with chlorine, UV light or ozone (in the latter case at least not with economical doses because >36 mg/L ozone are needed with 1 hour contact time).

Inactivation of helminth ova can be achieved in sewage sludge treatment where the temperature is increased over 40 °C or moisture is reduced to less than 5%.[15] Best results can be obtained when both of these conditions are combined for an extended period of time.[36] Details about the contact time under these conditio

Helminth ova cannot be inactivated with chlorine, UV light or ozone (in the latter case at least not with economical doses because >36 mg/L ozone are needed with 1 hour contact time).

Inactivation of helminth ova can be achieved in sewage sludge treatment where the temperature is increased over 40 °C or moisture is reduced to less than 5%.[15] Best results can be obtained when both of these conditions are combined for an extended period of time.[36] Details about the contact time under these conditions and other related environmental factors are generally not well-defined for every type of helminth egg species.[7] Helminth eggs are considered highly resistant biological structures.[15]

Helminth eggs (or ova) are a good indicator organism to assess the safety of sanitation and reuse systems because they are the most environmentally resistant of all pathogens (viruses, bacteria, protozoa and helminths) and can in extreme cases survive for several years in soil.[13] Therefore, the presence or absence of viable helminth eggs ("viable" meaning that a larva would be able to hatch from the egg) in a sample of dried fecal matter, compost or fecal sludge is often used to assess the efficiency of diverse wastewater and sludge treatment processes in terms of pathogen removal. In particular, the number of viable Ascaris eggs is often taken as an indicator for all helminth eggs in treatment processes as they are very common in many parts of the world and relatively easy to identify under the microscope. However, the exact inactivation characteristics may vary for different types of helminth eggs.[7]

Diagnosis

helminthiasis) is not straight forward. In fact, many laboratories in developing countries lack the right equipment or skilled staff required to do so. An important step in the analytical methods is usually the concentration of the eggs in the sample, especially in the case of wastewater samples. A concentration step may not be required in samples of dried feces, e.g. samples collected from urine-diverting dry toilets.

Human stool samples

For medical purposes, the exact number of helminth eggs is less important and therefore most diagnoses are made simply by identifying the appearance of the worm or eggs in feces. Due to

For medical purposes, the exact number of helminth eggs is less important and therefore most diagnoses are made simply by identifying the appearance of the worm or eggs in feces. Due to the large quantity of eggs laid, physicians can diagnose using as few as one or two fecal smears.[citation needed] The Kato technique (also called the Kato-Katz technique) is a laboratory method for preparing human stool samples prior to searching for parasite eggs. Eggs per gram is a laboratory test that determines the number of eggs per gram of feces in patients suspected of having a parasitological infection, such as schistosomiasis.

See also