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Causal Agent:

The nematode (roundworm) Gnathostoma spinigerum and Gnathostoma hispidum, which infects vertebrate animals. Human gnathostomiasis is due to migrating immature worms.

Life Cycle:

Gnathostoma spinigerum and Gnathostoma hispidum Lifecycle

In the natural definitive host (pigs, cats, dogs, wild animals) the adult worms reside in a tumor which they induce in the gastric wall. They deposit eggs that are unembryonated when passed in the feces The number 1. Eggs become embryonated in water, and eggs release first-stage larvae The number 2. If ingested by a small crustacean (Cyclops, first intermediate host), the first-stage larvae develop into second-stage larvae The number 3. Following ingestion of the Cyclops by a fish, frog, or snake (second intermediate host), the second-stage larvae migrate into the flesh and develop into third-stage larvae The number 4. When the second intermediate host is ingested by a definitive host, the third-stage larvae develop into adult parasites in the stomach wall The number 5. Alternatively, the second intermediate host may be ingested by the paratenic host (animals such as birds, snakes, and frogs) in which the third-stage larvae do not develop further but remain infective to the next predator The number 6. Humans become infected by eating undercooked fish or poultry containing third-stage larvae, or reportedly by drinking water containing infective second-stage larvae in Cyclops The number 7.

Life cycle image and information courtesy of DPDx.