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Gnathostomiasis – causes, side effects and treatments at

Thursday, April 05, 2018 by

Gnathostomiasis is a zoonosis caused by the larva of parasitic nematodes known as Gnasthostoma. A zoonosis is an infectious disease that can be transmitted from animals to humans. In the case of gnathostomiasis, infection typically occurs when humans consume the raw or undercooked meat of fish, eels, frogs, or birds. Though Gnasthostoma larvae can survive in humans for up to a decade, they’re unable to mature and reproduce.

This disease is most common in Thailand and Japan, where it can go by “Tau-cheed” (in Thailand) or “Cohoko-Fushu Tua chid” (in Japan). Apart from these two countries, cases of gnathostomiasis have also been recorded in Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Latin America, and Australia.

Known side effects and risk factors of gnathostomiasis

Humans are not the natural hosts of Gnasthostoma, hence why they’re incapable of developing into adults. The most the larva can do is penetrate the walls of the stomach and travel through the human body’s numerous tissues. Little to no symptoms manifest during the early stage of larval migration. Those people who did experience symptoms were said to have endured:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Anorexia
  • Diarrhea
  • Exhaustion
  • Fever
  • Lack of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

These symptoms can last for two to three weeks. Following this, the larva will begin to move under the skin. This will lead to the formation of skin lesions that appear as reddish, creeping eruptions. The lesions typically last several weeks.

Body systems harmed by gnathostomiasis

Gnathostoma larvae aren’t restricted to just the stomach. They can travel to other parts of the body, such as the lungs, bladder, and the central nervous system. If the parasites are able to enter any of these organs and organ systems, they can cause further complications.

For instance, according to, a case of gnathostomiasis where the larvae have entered the lungs can lead to a cough, pleuritic chest pain, hemoptysis (coughing of blood), and pneumothorax (collapsed lung). Larvae in the eyes can cause uveitis, iritis, glaucoma, retinal scarring, and vision loss. The larvae are at their most dangerous if they find their way to the brain since they increase the risk of headaches, reduced consciousness, coma, and even death. Invasion of the eye or brain is most likely to occur of the larvae appear to be moving underneath the skin of the face.

Food items or nutrients that may prevent gnathostomiasis

The best way to prevent gnathostomiasis is to avoid undercooked or raw meats in countries where this disease is common. Washing hands with soap and water prior to and following food preparation can minimize the risk of this disease as well.

Certain foods are known to possess highly potent antiparasitic properties, making it much easier to avoid or recover from gnathostomiasis. Coconut oil is one such food, as its antibacterial and antimicrobial qualities make it more difficult for parasites to live in the body. Onions and garlic have a similar effect, particularly if they’re consumed raw. Oregano, clove, black walnut, and wormwood are especially popular for their anti-parasitic properties; so much so that they’re common ingredients in natural health regimens dedicated to the elimination of parasites. Foods rich in probiotics, such as yogurt and kefir, can be helpful too since they improve gut health and make it more difficult for parasites to thrive in the stomach.

At the same time, a person who has gnathostomiasis should avoid foods like sugar, alcohol, and processed foods. Sugar feeds parasites, alcohol inhibits the function of the immune system, and processed foods have no positive impact on immune system health.

Treatments, management plans for gnathostomiasis

In addition to antiparasitic medication, another treatment option for people with gnathostomiasis is surgery. This is done to remove parasites from the skin. Either treatment can help a person rid themselves of the parasite.

Though as with many zoonoses, this is a preventable condition. Practicing good hygiene, especially when handling food, is essential to avoiding gnathostomiasis altogether.

Where to learn more


Gnathostomiasis is a parasitic infection brought on by nematode larvae. It occurs when a person eats raw or undercooked meat that has been contaminated by the parasites. Since they’re unable to mature properly inside of people, the most the larvae can do is move through the body. The larvae are capable of entering all sorts of organs and organ systems and giving rise to complications of these parts of the body. Fortunately, gnathostomiasis can be prevented simply by cooking meat properly and washing hands before and after handling food.

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