Trichuriasis

Trichuriasis

[trik-uh-rahy-uh-sis]
Trichuriasis is a parasitic disease caused by infection of the large intestine by a parasite whipworm (Trichuris trichiura).

Causes, incidence, and risk factors

Trichuriasis is common worldwide (in particular among countries with warm, humid climates) and primarily affects children, who may become infected if they ingest soil contaminated with whipworm eggs. The ingested eggs hatch, and the whipworm embeds in the wall of the large intestine (cecum, colon, rectum).

The main risk factor for infection is ingestion of eggs from soil contaminated with feces. Some outbreaks have been traced to contaminated vegetables (due to presumed soil contamination).

Symptoms

  • Light infestations are frequently asymptomatic (have no symptoms).
  • Heavy infestations may have bloody diarrhea.
  • Long-standing blood loss may lead to iron-deficiency anemia.
  • Rectal prolapse is seen in severe cases.

Signs and tests

A stool ova and parasites exam reveals the presence of typical whipworm eggs.

Treatment

Oral treatment with mebendazole for 3 days is commonly used in symptomatic infections. Another anti-parasitic agent (albendazole) can be used as an alternative therapy.

Prognosis

Full recovery is expected with treatment.

Complications

In severe cases, dehydration and anemia from bloody diarrhea can occur. Rarely, rectal prolapse can also occur.

Prevention

Improved facilities for feces disposal have decreased the incidence of whipworm. Handwashing before food handling, and avoiding ingestion of soil by thorough washing of food that may have been contaminated with egg-containing soil are other preventive measures.

Source

  • Whipworm Infection MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. US Federal Government public. domain. Update Date: 7/16/2004. Updated by: Daniel Levy, M.D., Ph.D., Infectious Diseases, Greater Baltimore Medical Center, Baltimore, MD. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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