Day 03 : Read EBook - Types of Microorganisms

6. Helminths

Multicellular parasitic worms called helminths are not technically microorganisms, as most are large enough to see without a microscope. However, these worms fall within the field of microbiology because diseases caused by helminths involve microscopic eggs and larvae. One example of a helminth is the guinea worm, or Dracunculus medinensis, which causes dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, and painful ulcers on the legs and feet when the worm works its way out of the skin (Figure). Infection typically occurs after a person drinks water containing water fleas infected by guinea-worm larvae. In the mid-1980s, there were an estimated 3.5 million cases of guinea-worm disease, but the disease has been largely eradicated. In 2014, there were only 126 cases reported, thanks to the coordinated efforts of the World Health Organization (WHO) and other groups committed to improvements in drinking water sanitation.11-12

Figure a is a photograph of a long, flat, white worm folded back and forth on a black background. Figure b shows a lesion on a patient. A worm is being pulled out of the lesion and being wrapped around a matchstick
Figure 08. (a) The beef tapeworm, Taenia saginata, infects both cattle and humans. T. saginata eggs are microscopic (around 50 µm), but adult worms like the one shown here can reach 4–10 m, taking up residence in the digestive system. (b) An adult guinea worm, Dracunculus medinensis, is removed through a lesion in the patient’s skin by winding it around a matchstick. (credit a, b: modification of work by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
11. C. Greenaway “Dracunculiasis (Guinea Worm Disease).” Canadian Medical Association Journal 170 no. 4 (2004):495–500.
12. World Health Organization. “Dracunculiasis (Guinea-Worm Disease).” WHO. 2015. Accessed October 2, 2015.