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2 parasite questions

William Reeder wmr-60 at ix.netcom.com
Sat Apr 17 13:15:43 EST 1999

gary schmertmann wrote:
> My stepchildren, ages 9 and 11, live in Sydney, Australia with their
> mom. They had recently been to the dentist. Apparently, my stepson has
> been grinding his teeth a lot lately.  The dentist felt it was due to an
> 'Aussie worm/parasite' and recommended that the whole family take a dose
> of deworming medication, with my stepson taking an additional dose a
> week later.
> Does anyone know the name of the parasite(s) (Genus and Species or
> common name) that can cause someone to grind his/her teeth?  The
> majority of information I found on the Internet mentioned bruxism as a
> symptom of parasitic infections, but never listed the name(s) of the
> parasite responsible.  By what mechanism does a  parasitic infection
> cause a person to grind his/her teeth?  How would one contract it? Is it
> a common parasitic infection in Sydney? Is treatment (assuming the
> correct medicine was prescribed) always effective?
> One of the articles I came across was entitled, "Are you clear of
> parasites?" by Dr. Ross Anderson. In the article he quoted:
> "In recent medical studies, it has been estimated that 85% of the North
> American adult population has at least one form of parasite living in
> their bodies. Some authorities feel this figure may be as high as
> 95%."
> Does anyone know the source of the quotation?  Since the article was
> associated with an ad for a colon cleansing treatment, I don't have much
> faith in its use of technical information.
> Also, another article mentioned that parasitic infections can have
> neurologic effects similar to seizures.  I believe the source quoted was
> a parasitic textbook.  The same article also mentioned an investigation
> by the CDC in which 3 Jewish men were found to be infected with a
> parasite commonly found in pork.  Does anyone recognize the article? Can
> anyone provide the name of the textbook referenced that talks about
> seizures as a potential symptom of parasitic infections?  Has anyone
> ever heard of seizure-like symptoms being reported and then  attributed
> to a parasitic infection?
> Thanks,
> Marcia

Your dentist is referring to the pinworm Enterobius vermicularis.  The 
text book quoted is probably "Clinical Parasitology" with went through 
nine editions.  From the 8th edition (authors Faust, Russell and Jung - 
1970 - ISBN 0-8121-0291-6)  "In children nervousness, insomnia, 
nightmares, and even convulsions have been attributed to enterobiasis.  
Infected children are said frequently to have dark shadows under their 
eyes and loss of appetite.  Behavior symptoms, including nail biting, 
nose picking, GRINDING OF TEETH at night, inattention and poor 
cooperation, are frequently dismissed without considering pinworm 
etiology".  Most Parasitology texts and review articals do no mention 
convulsions as a complication of pin worm infection, those that do refer 
back to "Clinical Parasitology" as their reference.  Several do however 
mention teeth grinding as a possible side effect of the infection.

Pinworm infecions are extremely common especially in children.  When a 
child becomes infected, often when first attending school and coming into 
contact with large numbers of other children, he or she usually infects 
the entire family - hence the need to treat other family members.  The 
majority of persons infected with this parasite do not have any symptoms 
of the infection at all.  Others have minor itching around their anus.  
This is caused by the gravid female worm crawling out of the anus at 
night to lay eggs on the skin.  Some children have more severe symptoms 
with severe itching, insomnia, loss of appetite, nervousness and 
behavioral changes, such as the teeth grinding.  This is a very common 
childhood infection and no negative stigma should be attached to it.

The second question about seizures from a pork associated parasite 
probably is referring to Tainea solium the pork tapeworm.  If humans 
ingest the larva of this worm in meat they can get a tapeworm. If however 
they ingest the eggs of the tapeworm they can get the larval worm which 
is known as a cysticerus.  Cysticercosis is a common cause of seizures in 
many parts of the world without strict laws concerning the feeding and 
butchering of swine.

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