Study published on the transmission of the giant roundworm Ascaris between pigs and people

June 20, 2014
Study published on the transmission of the giant roundworm Ascaris between pigs and people

The giant roundworm Ascaris lumbricoides infects approximately 0.8 billion people worldwide, leading to chronic morbidity including intestinal problems and poor growth, particularly in children. The closely-related worm Ascaris suum infects pigs across the globe, causing production losses for pig farmers. Human and pig roundworms look very similar, so it is unclear whether they are actually the same or two separate species.

In a study published online in The Journal of Infectious Diseases, researchers from the RVC, Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, University of Copenhagen and the Royal Cornwall Hospital investigated the transmission of giant roundworms between pigs and people. Over 500 roundworms were obtained from people and pigs on four continents and variations in the worm DNA were investigated.

Marked differences between worms originating from people and pigs were found, supporting the existence of two separate Ascaris species. Roundworm infections in people in the UK appeared to be of pig origin and there was also transmission between people and pigs in Uganda. In addition, genetic differences between worm populations from different countries, villages and individuals, were observed consistent with very local spread of infection. The results provide new insights into the spread of giant roundworm infections. Control programmes for human should take into account the potential for transmission from pigs, particularly in areas where households keep or where pig manure (which may contain roundworm eggs) is used as fertiliser.

More information: Betson, M; Nejsum, P; Bendall, RP; Deb, RM; Stothard, JR (2014) "Molecular Epidemiology of Ascariasis: A Global Perspective on the Transmission Dynamics of Ascaris in People and Pigs." The Journal of Infectious Diseases. dx.doi.org/10.1093/infdis/jiu193

Related Stories

MRSA thrives even without antibiotics

November 7, 2011

The MRSA bacterium, which is resistant to antibiotics, has spread rapidly in the past few years on pig farms. Extensive use of antibiotics is thought to help it spread, but reducing the use of antibiotics is not enough to ...

Do people and pigs share salmonella strains?

April 3, 2014

If antimicrobial-resistant Salmonella is showing up in pigs, then are bacon-loving people also at risk? In his latest research, NC State population health and pathobiology professor Sid Thakur looks at serotypes, or groups, ...

Recommended for you

Experimental MERS vaccine shows promise in animal studies

July 28, 2015

A two-step regimen of experimental vaccines against Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) prompted immune responses in mice and rhesus macaques, report National Institutes of Health scientists who designed the vaccines. ...

Can social isolation fuel epidemics?

July 21, 2015

Conventional wisdom has it that the more people stay within their own social groups and avoid others, the less likely it is small disease outbreaks turn into full-blown epidemics. But the conventional wisdom is wrong, according ...

Lack of knowledge on animal disease leaves humans at risk

July 20, 2015

Researchers from the University of Sydney have painted the most detailed picture to date of major infectious diseases shared between wildlife and livestock, and found a huge gap in knowledge about diseases which could spread ...

IBD genetically similar in Europeans and non-Europeans

July 20, 2015

The first genetic study of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) to include individuals from diverse populations has shown that the regions of the genome underlying the disease are consistent around the world. This study, conducted ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.