The idea of worms in the body gives many people the chills, but tiny parasites are present in around 80% of children and adults, usually in the intestines. Luckily, there is a difference between parasite stowaways and problematic parasitic infection. Flatworms, flukes, and roundworms are most responsible for parasitic worm infections. Tapeworm exposure is almost exclusively the result of contaminated water or food, while flatworms are generally introduced by raw or undercooked meat. Flukes usually make their way into the system through freshwater plants, while hookworms rely on contaminated soil and feces for transmission. Pinworms usually affect children and are relatively harmless. Trichinosis worms are not common today but can enter the body via undercooked meat. While worms produce a myriad of symptoms, some are more common than others.
People returning from a trip to a country where hygiene regulations for food and water are less stringent than in North America should be vigilant about their health for the next months. Worms residing in unsanitary conditions are most likely to cause an infection in their host.
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