Strongyloidiasis & Safety

What is Strongyloidiasis?

Strongyloides stercoralis (aka threadworm), is a human parasitic roundworm causing the disease of strongyloidiasis. Although we are unlikely to come in contact with this dangerous parasite in developed areas of the world, you should be aware of it as an ova counter. Highest rates of infections are amongst the indigenous population of northern Australia where it's estimated over 25% of the population are infected. And more than 60% in some locations. This worms ability to bread within the host and the lack of education in poor communities (they use shallow latrines; Untreated dog faeces infecting the soil; Dogs defecate near the vegetable garden; People going barefoot) contribute to the spread of the disease.

It can cause a number of symptoms in people, principally skin symptoms, abdominal pain, diarrhoea and weight loss. In some people, particularly those who require corticosteroids or other immunosuppressive medication, Strongyloides can cause a hyperinfection syndrome that can lead to death if untreated. The diagnosis is made by blood and stool tests. The drugs ivermectin and albendazole are widely used to treat strongyloidiasis.

Hyperinfection syndrome is a condition of massive infection in which threadworm larvae multiply rapidly and spread throughout the body. It is usually associated with damage to the immune system, the use of certain steroid medications, or malnutrition.

Safety & worm therapy

You may not have thought about this yet but the only way to keep a stock of hookworms presently is for a human being to host the infection internally.

Never accept parasites from an unknown, or an untested source (where you don't know the persons history). And never walk through open latrines in an attempt to get a hookworm infected (this is a myth and potentially harmful to your health). Reputable helminthic therapy providers test themselves regularly even though the likelihood of transmitting something nasty is extremely remote (please ask them about health checks). Currently there is no evidence or concern that hookworms could be a vector for blood transmitted diseases.

See also TWIP-23 Podcaste | Strongyloides in Northern Australia | ARDS Australia