Worm diseases while traveling

Lack of hygiene and lack of caution sometimes lead to holiday souvenirs of a special kind: worm diseases. Especially dangerous are worm diseases, which you can get when traveling to tropical countries.

Loa loa - that sounds like a tasty tropical fruit, but is actually a tiny worm from the family of threadworms. These thin, thread-like worms are also called filariae, which preferentially colonize the lymphatic system of humans and thus cause severe clinical pictures.

Among the filaria include parasites such as Loa Loa, the Guinea worm and Onchocerca volvulus, the causative agent of river blindness. Most important medical relevance has been the worms from the class of the trematodes - leeches - also called schistosomes, which transmit the dangerous schistosomiasis.

Threadworms lurk everywhere

In Central and West Africa, stinging mangrove flies transmit the Loa Loa larvae. These grow up in the lymphatic system of man; The adult, female worms migrate around the connective tissue of the skin and mucous membranes, producing eggs, which in turn circulate in the blood vessels and form larvae - the microfilariae. If the human is stung again, the insects pick up the larvae and pass them on at the next blood meal.

According to the WHO, around 13 million people are infected with Loa Loa. Diagnosis is made by detecting antibodies in the blood or by detecting the microfilariae in the blood. The only effective protection is an effective insect repellent for the skin or mosquito nets. The worms are sometimes surgically removed, but above all, they are treated with strong drugs (diethycarbamazine), which one must take longer time. As a result, the parasites die off, it can lead to a massive release of antigens and thus to severe allergic reactions.

Danger: river blindness

There are nematodes almost everywhere in the world: on the beach, in the sea, even on the farmland. Certain species can even colonize in the eyes of humans and trigger the feared river blindness - onchocerciasis - in the tropics. The roundworms settle in the subcutaneous tissue of humans and form nodules, so-called onchocerciasms, in the skin. The female parasites produce about five to ten million offspring during their lifetime. These larvae can spread in the human body and also reach the eye, where they cause visual impairment or even blindness.

The disease is transmitted by the bite of blackfly, which can only develop in flowing, oxygen-rich waters. In tropical countries, the hygienic conditions are not always good, so you should drink only bottled or boiled water, refrain from fresh fruit and vegetable juices and always peel fruit. The same goes for salad or meat.

With the treatment of the river blindness one should begin according to data of the center Bremen very slowly, because a rapid destruction of the parasite puts an enormous burden on the body of the patient. First, existing skin nodes are surgically removed. This is especially true for lumps on the head to avoid damage to the eyes. Thereafter, a special chemotherapy, in which the worms and their offspring are destroyed.

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