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What is Visceral Larva Migrans?

By H. Lo
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Visceral larva migrans is a medical condition in which a person is infected with parasites, like roundworms, normally found in cats and dogs. The infection is generally discovered in young children but can occur in adults as well. Visceral larva migrans usually goes away by itself without treatment except in rare circumstances when the condition is so severe it leads to death.

In cats and dogs, the parasites produce eggs. These eggs are found in the animal’s feces, which contaminate dirt. When these animals defecate in areas where humans spend their time, the spread of visceral larva migrans is possible. The eggs are transferred to human beings through a variety of ways; many cases of visceral larva migrans are found in young children because they sometimes eat dirt. Another way of acquiring the condition, no matter the person’s age, is by eating unwashed vegetables.

When the eggs enter a human being, they hatch and travel to different areas of the body such as the brain, eyes and heart. In addition, they can be found in other organs including the liver and lungs. The areas to which the parasites travel can determine the symptoms an affected individual might exhibit.

Symptoms of visceral larva migrans differ if the condition is mild or serious. With mild infections, the affected individual might not experience any symptoms at all. Serious infections, on the other hand, might cause abdominal pain, coughing and difficulty breathing. The affected individual might also develop a fever, itchy skin and rash. In addition, an infection can also cause eye, liver and lung problems.

Visceral larva migrans comes with symptoms similar to other medical conditions. A doctor might, therefore, have to eliminate other illnesses before positively diagnosing an individual with the infection. In addition to an analysis of the affected individual’s symptoms, a couple of tests can help in this diagnosis. For example, a complete blood count (CBC) can measure the amount of white blood cells the affected individual has in his body. Also, a blood test can be helpful in identifying the infection.

Although some individuals might require anti-parasitic medications, most affected people will find that visceral larva migrans does not require treatment. Since the parasites are not able to live and grow within a human body, the condition can go away on its own. Until then, the affected individual might make use of medications to relieve associated symptoms.

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