Rishta Worm - What Is It, And In Which Countries Is The Infection Common

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Rishta Worm - What Is It, And In Which Countries Is The Infection Common
Rishta Worm - What Is It, And In Which Countries Is The Infection Common

Video: Rishta Worm - What Is It, And In Which Countries Is The Infection Common

Video: Rishta Worm - What Is It, And In Which Countries Is The Infection Common
Video: 10 TERRIFYING PARASITES LIVING IN MAN. Parasites in the Human Body 2023, March

Dracunculiasis or what is the danger of the rishta worm?


  • 1 What are dracunculiasis and rishta worms?
  • 2 Life cycle of worms
  • 3 Symptoms of dracunculiasis
  • 4 Treatment of dracunculiasis
  • 5 How to avoid contamination of risht?

If you live in a temperate or cold climate, in a large metropolis or even in an ordinary Russian village, the chance to meet such a parasite as the rishta worm is reduced to zero. However, travelers, lovers of exotic, hot countries and unusual experiences are at risk of contracting this extremely unpleasant disease.

Although the foci of infection are decreasing along with the habitat of the parasite, the disease of dracunculiasis remains one of the most dangerous for fans of exotic recreation and extreme tourism in hot countries.

What are dracunculiasis and Rishta worms?


Dracunculiasis is a severe parasitic disease caused by nematodes, that is, roundworms belonging to the genus Dracunculus medinensis. Rishta are small males and long, up to one and a half to two meters, females. In ancient times, the disease was extremely widespread and caused a real horror, therefore, the defeat of nematodes by females and received this name in Latin. It translates as "infestation with miniature dragons."

The parasites resemble small dragons and outwardly: they look like long white opaque filaments with a barely noticeable thickening in the "head" area - it is from there that the eggs are ejected. The disease, as well as its cause, has been known since ancient times, described in ancient medical treatises.

By the 21st century, the habitats of parasites have been destroyed in many countries, but there are areas where you can become infected with roundworms of this species. Despite the fact that most people now do not even know what a rishta is, the risk has not been eliminated to this day.

Fans of unusual tourist routes running in the hot, dry regions of our planet, it is useful to know how the infection occurs, the risks, the symptoms of dracunculiasis, the most dangerous regions and precautions.

Life cycle of worms

Dracunculus medinensis goes through several stages of development during its life. Fertilized females are especially unpleasant for humans and animals, since for reproduction they need to lead a parasitic lifestyle and it is they who cause the manifestations of the disease.

The life cycle of a risht includes the following stages:

  1. Copepods. Temporary hosts of parasites living in water bodies. They willingly eat the eggs of the risht, but they cannot digest them, becoming carriers of the parasite. These tiny creatures reach a size of no more than 10 mm, so they can be easily swallowed by humans. Future nematode larvae can survive in one crustacean for up to several months.
  2. After an animal or a person drinks the contaminated water, microscopic crustaceans dissolve in the water. Helminth eggs are resistant to stomach acid and are so small that they easily penetrate the lymphatic system.
  3. The parasites develop imperceptibly for seven to nine months, until the females reach puberty and the males fertilize them.
  4. At this stage, the main stage of the disease begins. In the female, the intestines atrophy, the body cavity becomes the uterus. To discard the eggs, the nematode sneaks out of the tissues of the body, causing painful sores to form.
  5. The female needs water to eject her eggs. However, only the head of the parasite emerges, after which the nematode hides in the body of its host.


After the release of eggs, the female dies, decomposing in the host's subcutaneous tissue and causing poisoning with toxins.

Dracunculiasis symptoms

Infection with risht worms can go unnoticed for months. However, even before the final stage of reproduction, there are a number of symptoms that should not go unnoticed if a person traveled to tropical hot countries, unfavorable for dracunculiasis, during the year before their appearance.

You should pay attention to the following manifestations of the disease:

  • Unreasonable weakness, nausea, headache. The symptomatology itself can mean thousands of different diseases that are completely unrelated to nematode invasions. In the case of infection of the risht, the manifestations are explained by the fact that worms develop and release toxins in the process of life.
  • Allergic rashes. Another manifestation of "uninvited guests" in the body. The liver and kidneys have to dispose of all the waste of the worms, and they also feed on the host. As a result - frequent urticaria, colds.
  • Swelling. The next stage of dracunculiasis includes extensive damage to the lymphatic system, where parasites settle. Swelling appears in 80% of cases on the legs - in the calf or shins. They look atypical, resembling large tumors.
  • Itching and ulcers. This stage indicates the approach of the female's egg release period. She gnaws a way through the human subcutaneous tissue. Wet ulcers appear on the skin, in which, in addition to the ichor, traces of the vital activity of parasites are found.
  • Over time, the itching intensifies and becomes painful and unbearable. At the last stage, the worm is on the upper layer of the epidermis, but you cannot cut a limb in an attempt to get the parasite - it will simply go deep in order to start all over again.


For a long time, the only way to deal with this terrible disease was to "catch" females and carefully pull them out with a stick. For this, the patient approached the water, forcing the nematode to protrude from the wound as much as possible in order to lay eggs. The worm's head was wound on a thin stick, and then exceptional accuracy was required in order to reach the worm without breaking it.

An open wound remains a source of infection.

Pathogenic microbes easily enter a weakened body, therefore, common complications of dracunculiasis are:

  1. Gangrene, especially gas;
  2. Amyotrophy;
  3. Trophic ulcers of traumatic genesis;
  4. Sepsis, blood poisoning.

    Trophic ulcers
    Trophic ulcers

In the medical literature, cases of infection of up to 50 rishti are described at the same time. Doctors believe that if the number of parasites is more than 20, the prognosis for life is unfavorable, and for partial disability of the patient, even one parasite is "enough".

Dracunculiasis treatment

Since the rishta does not live in the intestines, traditional methods of treatment do not work. The ancient way - to get a pre-killed parasite 2-3 centimeters per day, is considered the most effective today.

Additionally, medical procedures are carried out, which include:

  • Dissection of wounds, removal of larvae. An antiseptic bandage is applied to the affected area to prevent the development of a secondary infection.
  • Thiabendazole - at the rate of 25 mg per kilogram of human weight. This anthelmintic drug partially inhibits the nervous activity of the parasite, prevents the reproduction of the risht. The course lasts two days.
  • An alternative is Metronidazole, an antiprotozoal drug that also affects nematodes. The dosage is 500 mg three times a day, the course lasts a week.
  • The patient is prescribed antihistamines to reduce allergic reactions.
  • A course of painkillers or sedatives is possible, designed to reduce the suffering of the patient caused by parasites.


Since anthelmintic drugs are ineffective against guinea worm and can only slow down the development and reproduction, the therapeutic measures are recognized as secondary in comparison with the prevention of dracunculiasis.

How to avoid contamination of the risht?

Until the 30s of the last century, parasites were found in the territory of the former Soviet Union - for example, in Bukhara. Now they have become "exotic guests" who can be brought from certain regions. Therefore, it is necessary to know the countries where the rishta is common:

  1. Central Africa. The countries of Chad, Ethiopia, and South Sudan are considered endemic for dracunculiasis.
  2. Arab countries - Iran, Pakistan.
  3. The parasite is widespread in India, especially in poor areas.
  4. There are reports of the risk of infection in China.

There are no vaccinations against the disease. The only reliable way to protect yourself from the disease is to monitor the use of water in countries that are unfavorable for infection of risht, and to avoid swimming in dangerous water bodies.

Tourists who are going to visit "dangerous" countries from the point of view of dracunculiasis are advised to:

  • Drink only bottled water;
  • Do not drink from the tap, and even more so - from rivers, lakes or streams;
  • Do not eat food prepared under unknown conditions.

Remember boiling does not save you risk. Risht eggs survive even in stomach acid, they are not afraid of high temperatures either. In addition, they can remain on the walls of the dishes, so use only your own drinking containers, which must also be washed with bottled water.

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