WARNING: This post is not for the faint of heart. If you're pregnant, post-partum, intestinal-fortitude-challenged, or just plain ol' squeamish, you may want to bypass this post and head straight for the baboons and birds below.
Now that you've been warned, let's hop aboard the Parasite Express and take a tour of the human body, as abused by the roundworm known as Ascaris lumbricoides.
Here are some tame photos of this parasite, brought to us by Amy. I don't suggest doing an image search for this creature. They aren't pretty.
Photo source: carage.org.lb
They don't look so menacing when placed beside a ruler. But when placed inside your system, you get a whole different story. If I may quote Amy: after contracting them (by coming in contact with infected feces),
The eggs hatch in your intestine, penetrate the intestinal wall and travel in the blood stream to your liver. From the liver, they travel to the lungs, where you cough up the tiny larvae and re-swallow them. This is how they reach your intestines again, where they attach and mature to the adult stage. Adults grow up to 35 cm long and can shed up to 250,000 eggs a day, which are passed in the feces.
Photo source: Portalesmedicos.com
...nobody likes me, every body hates me, guess I'll go eat worms...
Oh, but that's not all. Amy has more to share:
One person may be host to hundreds of these worms, and when the worms are threatened by bodily defenses like fever, or by medications, they can begin to migrate. Migration can cause blockage of the intestines, where they bunch up, or they can try to exit the body from the anus or mouth/nose.
And don't think you North American readers are safe from this parasite, which seems like it should only dwell in the deepest regions of the tropics. No, they are prevalent in the Appalachian mountain region.
Now, go wash your hands.
On a lighter note, Amy has something far nicer to share. She's a terrific painter. Check out her portfolio.
Thanks Amy. How can one woman be such a harbinger of ick and beauty?