Roundworm are found in almost all countries. These giant intestinal parasites cause the disease known as ascariasis. These worms are of an off-white color. They are usually as long and thick as an ordinary pencil and are most frequently seen in children.
Eggs produced by these worms are passed in stool. With modern toilet facilities there is less danger of infection. But if the soil in which the children are playing becomes contaminated with roundworm eggs, they are easily transferred to the mouth on dirty fingers, particularly by children living under unhygienic conditions.
The worm eggs may remain alive in the soil or many months. There is always greater danger of contamination where human wastes are used fertilizing vegetables. Great care must be taken to be sure all foods are thoroughly cleansed and sterilized by cooking before being used.
When these worm eggs reach the duodenum or small bowel they quickly hatch. The young worms burrow into the intestinal wall and then migrate to the liver and from there to the heart and lungs, producing bronchitis. Later they reach the small intestine again where they develop into mature worms causing nausea and vomiting, loss of weight, fever, nervousness, and irritability. Many patients complain of colicky and diarrhea. A mass of writhing worms in the intestine may produce complete obstruction of bowel.
The adult worms may migrate through the intestinal walls and cause severe peritonitis. They may find their way into other areas causing appendicitis, gallbladder trouble, and liver disease. When the worms die, they cause toxic reactions, such as swelling of the face, loss of appetite, and severe nervous symptoms.
Piperazine citrate syrup, two teaspoons twice a week without the medicine after which treatment is repeated, will usually get rid of the worms. Young children should be given half this adult dose. Another method is to use Hexylresocinol pills for adults. The dose is ten pills (100 mg.) taken at one time with water. Children from eight to twelve years are given eight pills, younger children from three of five pills, according to age. But try the piperazine citrate first.