Friday, December 05, 2008

Parasitic Worms

Most annelid worms live freely in the soil or water, but some worm-like groups live inside other animals, even man. One of these is the group called Nematoda, or roundworms, containg some 10,000 species. They are pale in colour, without segments, and have pointed ends. They move about in a curious figure – of-eight fashion. Some of these nematodes, can be up to fifteen centimeters long, but many kinds are microscopic. All told there are vast numbers of these nematodes living in all sorts of animals, also plants, and a great number n the soil.

Each animal victim of a parasite is called a host. The human is host to another kind of worm, called a tapeworm. This belongs to the group of 6,000 species called Platyhelminthes or flatworms. In this case here are two hosts, the human and another animals which he may eat as meat, such as pork or beef. The pig or bull may pick up a tapeworm egg and swallow it. This hatches into a larva and bores into the flesh.

Another type of flatworm, called a fluke, has the shape of a small leaf. One example is the liver-flike which attacks sheep.

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