There are many types of parasitic worms that infect human beings and cause serious problems in the intestine. These parasites can enter the body through different opening and ways from the body and cause infection which might take a long time to treat. Whipworm infection is another type of parasite infection that affects people of all ages but is more prevalent in children. Whipworm virus is found in soil and enters the body when a person touches or comes in contact with contaminated soil having whipworms. It looks similar to other parasites and grows rapidly inside the intestine. Today we will discuss more about whipworm infection and its effects on body.
What Is Whipworm Infection?
Whipworm infection occurs because of parasite infection called trichuris trichiura. OnlymyHealth talked to Dr. Ranjan Shrivastava, Clinical Physician and Infectious Disease Specialist from BNK Hospital, Kochi. He told that whipworm infection is similar to flatworms and occurs after ingesting contaminated water that contains faeces or from soil. Both of these conditions occur more towards rural areas where people live in unhygienic circumstances. It affects children in majority of cases as they are more prone to it and have lesser immunity. Whipworm infection spreads rapidly like any other stomach worm and causes infection in large intestine. It is important to get rid of this infection as early as possible to avoid complications.
Symptoms of Whipworm Infection
Symptoms of whipworm infection are similar to other parasitic infection. It had various symptoms that can vary according to seriousness of the infection that has spread. Here are most evident symptoms of this parasitic infection-
- Abdominal pain
- Frequent bowel movements that cause pain
- Bloody diarrhoea
- Sudden weight loss
- Inability to control defecation
What Causes Whipworm infection?
This parasite resembles like a whip handle and thus it gets its name from there. Whipworm infection is caused by parasite trichuris trichiura that is present in the soil. The major cause of this infection is consuming contaminated water or water that is contaminated with faeces. It could also happen if you drink water that has eggs of this parasite and it goes inside your body. Whipworms lay their eggs into the soil, which if comes in contact with human by any means causes infection and goes into their intestine.
Conditions Causing Whipworm Infection
- Touching dirt and putting hands or fingers near the mouth
- Eating fruits or vegetables that have not been washed properly
- Uncooked meat or food
- Drinking faeces contaminated water
- Risk Factors for Whipworm Infection
A whipworm can infect anyone of any age and kind. Children are slightly more vulnerable to this infection as they have habit of touching different surfaces all the time. Other factors that may increase the risk of whipworm infection are-
- Living in an area that has moist and humid climate
- Living in poor sanitation surrounding that have unhygienic atmosphere
- Working in industry that deals with soil or products for it such as pesticides etc
- Eating raw vegetables and fruits or having them without cooking or peeling properly
- Touching too many surfaces where there is increased risk of parasitic infection
- Children playing outdoors in ground or in open soil
How Is Whipworm Infection Diagnosed?
There are various tests that can be conducted to find out whipworm infection inside the body. It requires sample of your faeces that is taken for test to determine if there are any eggs or whipworms present inside your faeces. This test is called stool test. It is a simple test and does not cause any pain or discomfort in the body.
In the other test, doctor might give you a sterile container and plastic wrap with bathroom tissue. This is used when you go to the bathroom and place it over the toilet seat. After you defecate, make sure that you use that tissue to put stool in that given container. It can also be diaper in case of babies. This is for the sample for testing your stool if there are any intestinal infections present in the stool. Wash your hands properly after going through the test.
How Is Whipworm Infection Treated?
The most common and effective way to treat whipworm infection is through anti-parasitic medication. Doctors may give you lower dose of these medicines until the severity of infection is confirmed. Then higher dose is given if needed. Medicines like albendazole and mebenndazole are given to treat whipworm infection.
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