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Cartersville Medical Center



Ascariasis is an infection with a roundworm parasite.

This round worm can reach up to over 15 inches (40 centimeters) in length. Their eggs hatch in the stomach and travel to the heart and lungs. This causes a type of pneumonia. They travel to the throat where they are swallowed and enter the stomach again and develop into adult worms. Each worm lays 240,000 eggs per day. These eggs leave the body with bowel movements. The cycle begins again when contaminated food or water is eaten.

Digestive Tract and Lungs
Digestion tract and Lungs 3D
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Ascariasis is caused by swallowing food or water that is contaminated by feces containing eggs.

Risk Factors

Infestations are more common in preschool age or younger children. Other factors that may increase your chance of ascariasis include:

  • Travel to developing countries
  • Living in southern US
  • Eating unsanitary food
  • Drinking unclean water


Most people will have no symptoms. Symptoms of ascariasis may include:

  • Dry cough and fever
  • Wheezing
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Vomiting
  • Poor nutrition, especially in children
  • Passing a worm either by mouth, nose, or rectum
  • Diseases caused by the Ascaris worm include:
Inflammed appendix
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Your doctor will ask about your symptoms, and your travel and medical history. A physical exam will be done. You may be referred to a gastroenterologist or a specialist in tropical diseases.

Your bodily fluids and waste may be tested. This can be done with:

  • Blood tests
  • Urine tests
  • Stool tests

Images may be taken to look for evidence of the worm. This can be done with:

  • X-ray
  • Ultrasound


It is common to have more than one intestinal parasite. You may need to be treated for several. Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:

  • Medications such as mebendazole, albendazole, ivermectin, and pyrantel pamoate
  • Endoscopy or surgery if you have an intestinal obstruction from a large number of worms


To reduce your chance of ascariasis:

  • Avoid foods prepared without proper sanitation, such as unwashed hands.
  • Avoid water and other drinks that may be from contaminated sources.
  • Peel, cook, or wash vegetables if they may have been fertilized with human excrement.
  • Wash hands when leaving the bathroom.

Revision Information

  • Center for Disease Control

  • World Health Organization

  • Health Canada

  • Public Health Agency of Canada

  • Ascariasis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated April 29, 2013. Accessed July 19, 2014.

  • Parasites—ascariasis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: Updated January 10, 2013. Accessed July 19, 2014.

The health information in this Health Library is provided by a third party. Cartersville Medical Center does not in any way create the content of this information. It is provided solely for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for proper medical care provided by a physician. Always consult with your doctor for appropriate examinations, treatment, testing, and care recommendations. Do not rely on information on this site as a tool for self-diagnosis. If you have a medical emergency, call 911.