Whipworm infection is infection of the large intestine caused by Trichocephalus trichiura.
Whipworm infection is a common worldwide infection that mainly affects children. Children may become infected if they swallow soil contaminated with whipworm eggs. When the eggs hatch inside the body, the whipworm sticks inside the wall of the large intestine.
Whipworm is found throughout the world, especially in countries with warm, humid climates. The main risk factor for infection is swallowing soil contaminated with feces. Some outbreaks have been traced to contaminated vegetables (due to presumed soil contamination).
Symptoms range from mild to severe. Sometimes, there are no symptoms. A severe infection may result in bloody diarrhea, iron-deficiency anemia and, on occasion, rectal prolapse.
Exams and Tests
A stool ova and parasites exam reveals the presence of whipworm eggs.
Mebendazole taken by mouth for 3 days is commonly prescribed when the infection causes symptoms. Albendazole is used as an alternative therapy.
Full recovery is expected with treatment.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Seek medical attention if you or your child develop bloody diarrhea. In addition to whipworm, there are many other infections and illnesses that can cause similar symptoms.
Improved facilities for feces disposal have decreased the incidence of whipworm. Always wash your hands before handing food. Thoroughly washing food may also help prevent this condition.
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