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Adv Parasitol. 2001;48:285-375.

Ascaris and ascariasis.

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  • 1WHO Collaborating Centre for Soil-transmitted Helminthiases, Institute of Biomedical and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, UK.


In recent years much new information has been obtained about the epidemiology, population biology and public health significance of infections of Ascaris lumbricoides in humans. Results from experimental infections of A. suum in pigs have helped to elucidate the observations made in the community on human ascariasis. The main purpose of the review is to see how new information may contribute to further acceptance of ascariasis as a serious contributor to ill-health and so to the design and implementation of sustainable control programmes intended to reduce the morbidity due to infection with A. lumbricoides. Eradication is neither a realistic nor prudent aim given the current shortage of appropriate sanitation in many countries where ascariasis is endemic. A substantial body of evidence shows that for the four common species of soil-transmitted nematode, including A. lumbricoides, regular administration of broad-spectrum anthelminthic drugs to children attending primary schools is a cost-effective means of controlling the infections. Anthelminthic drugs must be of proven quality and efficacy and health professionals should be prepared to detect and manage drug resistance should that emerge. Despite a deeper understanding of the immune response of a variety of hosts to infections with either A. lumbricoides or A. suum there is at present little prospect of an effective vaccine against ascariasis. The relationship between A. lumbricoides and A. suum is addressed, particularly since both species, if they are indeed separate species, occur in people and their pigs in many communities.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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