Parasitic Infestations

Intestinal infestations with parasitic worms were so widespread in early twentieth-century Korea that some public health authorities believed at least 95 percent of the people were affected. Avison (1897) noted a great demand for worm medicine and reported seeing round worms and tapeworms of prodigious size.

Infestation with flukes was also widespread because of the preference for eating raw fish and crus-tacea which were often contaminated with the lung fluke (Paragonimus westermani), the liver fluke (Clo-norchis sinensis), or the intestinal fluke (Metagoni-mus yokogawai). Paragonimiasis or pulmonary dis-tomiasis was most common; it was generally acquired by eating raw crab meat. The developing parasites lodge in the lungs and cause an intense inflammatory reaction that results in the production of rusty-brown sputum. Before the etiology and transmission of the disease was understood, cases of paragonimiasis numbered as many as 40,000 per year. Metagonimiasis was also quite frequent, but this disorder was considered mild. Clonorchiasis was rare, but it did cause severe damage in affected individuals (Miki 1962).

Ancylostomiasis, or hookworm disease, caused by Necator americanus and Ancylostoma duodenale, was common during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in Korea. Such infestations probably affected 25 to 30 percent of the people and were the cause of much malnutrition and secondary anemia. In addition, Ascaris lumbricoides, the roundworm, was said to infect about 95 percent of the people. By contrast, the pinworm or threadworm, Enterobius yermicularis, and the whipworm, Iricouris trichiura, seemed to have been comparatively uncommon (Simmons et al. 1944).

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