Doctors from India have successfully removed 14 squirming roundworms from a woman's bile duct, who reportedly suffered from severe abdominal pain for six months.
A woman named Sunita, 38, complained of severe stomach pain, fever, jaundice, and vomiting for months. She also lost more than 12 kilograms (26 pounds) in about a month of her illness. She was originally misdiagnosed and was given antibiotics before she was asked to undergo an imaging test.
Results of her CT scan showed 14 roundworms, measuring about 6 to 8 inches each, lurking in her bile ducts. Dr. Arvind Khurana, Sunita's physician and the head of gastroenterology at Fortis Hospital in New Delhi, said that they were able to remove all the roundworms through a session of endoscopy.
Endoscopy is a nonsurgical procedure that uses a long, flexible tube with an attached camera that reaches into a person's digestive tract.
What Is Ascariasis?
Dr. Peter Hotez, the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said the roundworms found in Sunita's body appear to be Ascaris lumbricoides.
Hotez said this type of intestinal parasite is "one of the most common agents of human disease in the world." Ascaris worms are common India, while an estimated 807 million to 1.2 billion people are infected by this parasite worldwide.
Roundworms typically live in the small intestine, where a large number of these worms can be life-threatening in children.
"They'll wander out of the intestinal tract and into the bile duct, where they can cause obstruction," Hotez said.
Ascaris eggs are passed through the feces of an infected person. When an infected person defecates in a garden or in the field, the Ascaris eggs are deposited on the soil.
Ascariasis is caused by ingesting Ascaris eggs, which happens when the contaminated soil is put in the mouth. Vegetables or fruits that are not properly cooked, washed, or peeled are ideal sites for Ascaris eggs, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Patients infected with roundworms are prescribed with anthelminthic medications such as albendazole and mebendazole.
"Your doctor may also prescribe an iron supplement, or a soothing cream to stop the itching pain. Sometimes, depending on the roundworm, the treatments need to be repeated after several weeks to make sure the roundworms eggs are completely eradicated," the Cleveland Clinic reported.
Preventing ascariasis starts with good hygiene and clean environment. For individuals living with animals, experts advise having their pets regularly dewormed. Proper handwashing with soap and warm water should also avoid a roundworm contamination.