Surgeons pull dozens of ‘writhing’ parasitic WORMS from four-year-old boy’s intestine after he complained he was constipated and bloated
- The boy, from a rural region of Cameroon, west Africa, needed surgery
- His condition could have become life-threatening, his doctors said
- Worm infection is the most common parasitic infection in the world
Doctors have revealed photos of a bowlful of ‘writhing’ parasitic worms they removed from a four-year-old’s body.
The stomach-churning snap shows a pile of the creatures in a metal bowl on the operating table after the boy was treated for the life-threatening infection.
He had been taken to hospital complaining of stomach pain, vomiting, a swollen abdomen and severe constipation which had lasted six months.
Medics found the boy had never been tested for worms before and his family could not afford to take him to the closest hospital 47 miles (76km) away.
They removed the live worms in an operation, sent the boy home after seven days and gave his whole family drugs to protect against the infection returning.
Doctors had to surgically remove the worms (pictured right, during the operation) after they found the ‘writhing bundle’ of them (left) had completely blocked the boy’s small intestine
Doctors in Cameroon, west Africa, reported the case of the young boy in the Menchum Division in the north-west of the country.
They diagnosed the boy, who isn’t named or pictured, with a condition called ascariasis – a parasitic worm infection in the small intestine.
This, they said, is the most common parasitic worm infection in the world and affects around 800million people, mostly aged between two and 10.
And children living in poorer countries are most at risk of the parasites, which are spread through accidentally swallowing human faeces.
Poor sanitation and contaminated food, soil and water in areas with bad public hygiene are generally to blame, the doctors said.
When they operated on the boy’s intestine they found it was completely blocked by a ‘mass of writhing worms’.
WHAT IS ASCARIASIS?
Ascariasis is a parasitic worm infection affecting humans and is one of the most common in the world.
Between 800million and 1.2billion people worldwide are infected with the parasitic worms, which spread through eggs in human faeces.
Most cases are in poor and developing nations where public sanitation is bad and water, food and soil may become contaminated with human waste.
Eggs may be transmitted if people defecate outside – approximately one in eight of the world’s population does this – or if human faeces is used as fertiliser for plants.
Eggs may then mature into worms inside the body and live in the digestive system, where they feed off the food people eat.
Bad infections can cause blockage in the intestines which may lead to severe constipation, malnutrition and growth problems in children as nutrients are stolen by the parasites.
Symptoms of ascariasis may include constipation, vomiting, feeling sick and pain in the abdomen.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
‘Our patient was four-years old and reported to have never been dewormed since birth,’ said the medics, led by Dr Valirie Ndip Agbor.
‘This most probably led to a high worm burden and culminated in [intestinal obstruction].
‘This highlights the importance of regular deworming (biannually or at least annually) to clear off adult worms and their eggs from the bowel, in order to reduce worm burden and prevent the occurrence of life-threatening chronic complications’.
If the worms had not been removed they could have led to malnutrition, physical growth problems and poor memory and thinking skills, the doctors said.
They added a lack of money and health education was making it difficult to control the spread of the infection in Cameroon.
And the boy lived in an area where roads are ‘poorly motorable’ and hilly, making it difficult for both health workers and patients to travel around, Dr Agbor and his team said.
They wrote in a report in the Journal of Medical Case Reports: ‘The community needs to be sensitized on the importance of regular deworming and healthy practices such as: boiling water prior to drinking; proper hand washing with water and soap before handling food; and proper washing and cooking of vegetables before their consumption.
‘Discouraging practices such as the use of human feces as manure in farms, while encouraging the use of toilets (avoiding open defecation) and development of proper animal (particularly pig) sewage disposal systems could equally help prevent transmission’.
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