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Worms "N" Us: A look at 8 parasitic worms that live in humans

Take a trip through Scientific American's Worm Gallery and meet the charming, slinky creatures that turn your innards into their home sweet home
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PEEP THE PINWORM

Pinworm is the most ubiquitous parasitic worm infecting people in temperate climates—places like the U.S., Europe and most of China, which are neither tropical nor polar, but have four seasons.....[ More ]

TRICKY TAPEWORM

People accidentally ingest immature worms by eating raw or undercooked pork. Once the worms pass into the intestines, they latch onto the intestinal walls with suckers and hooks and begin to grow—and grow.....[ More ]

TERRIBLE TRICHINELLA

Beware of undercooked pork chops, tenderloin and sausages. If pork is your pleasure, make sure you cook it through to 170 degrees Fahrenheit (77 degrees Celsius); that should be enough to scorch any Trichinella larvae that may be hiding within.....[ More ]

SCARY SCHISTOSOMES

People develop schistosomiasis , or infections with schistosomes, by swimming in or touching water containing infected snails that release the larvae into the water. (The snails become infected in the first place because people with the disease urinate or defecate in the water .) The larvae penetrate a person's skin and journey through the bloodstream where they grow into adult worms measuring up to 0.6 inch (15 millimeters) long.....[ More ]

YIKES, LYMPHATIC FILARIAE

Unlike most parasitic worms, which inhabit the intestines, lymphatic filariae live in the lymphatic vessels and nodes. For reasons not completely understood by scientists, the presence of these worms in the lymph system can lead to severe inflammation called elephantiasis , which often affects the legs, arms, genitals and breasts [ see photo ].....[ More ]

WHOA, A WHIPWORM

Trichuris trichiura , commonly known as a whipworm because it looks like a cow whip, grows up to about two inches (50 millimeters, or as long as a thumb). The most common way to catch whipworm is by ingesting dirt containing human feces that are loaded with its eggs (think: children playing in the dirt and then putting their fingers in their mouths).....[ More ]

BEHOLD THE LARGE ROUNDWORM (Ascaris)

Ascariasis, the potentially deadly disease caused by the roundworm Ascaris , is the most common worm infection in humans, affecting as many as 1.5 billion people worldwide annually and striking hardest in tropical and subtropical regions with poor sanitation, according to the U.S.....[ More ]

HOOKWORM HEAD SHOT

Unlike most parasitic worms, which invade the body through the stomach , hookworm larvae can wiggle in through sweat glands or hair follicles in the skin. This typically happens when people walk, sit or lie on dirt containing human feces contaminated by hookworm larvae.....[ More ]

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