Intestinal parasites (worms) are those parasites that infects the gastro-intestinal tract of the human body and also in the body of other animals.
The major type of intestinal parasites is worm and then other tiny animals that live in people’s intestines and cause diseases. Those which are larger are sometimes seen in the stools (feces).
THE TYPES OF WORMS
- Roundworm (Ascaris)
- Whipworm (Trichuris)
- Threadworm (Pinworm)
The only worms commonly seen in the stools are roundworms, threadworms and tapeworms. Hookworms and whipworms may be present in the gut in large numbers without ever being seen in the stools.
NOTE : The cheapest worm medicines contain piperazine. These work only for roundworms and threadworms and should not be given to infants and young children. Other worms must be treated with other medicines. The most popular worm medicines now are those which attack most kinds of worms such as mebendazole (Vermox).
This worm is 20 to 30 cm long and has a pink or white color.
How they are spread
They spread by feces(stool)-to-mouth. Through lack of cleanliness, the roundworm eggs pass from one person’s stool to another person’s mouth.
Effect on health
Once the eggs are swallowed, young worms hatch and enter the bloodstream; this may cause general itching. The young worms then travel to the lungs, sometimes causing a dry cough or at worst, pneumonia with coughing of blood. The young worms are coughed up, swallowed, and reach the intestines where they grow to full size.
Many roundworms in the intestines may cause discomfort, indigestion and weakness. Children with many roundworms often have very large, swollen bellies. Rarely, roundworms may cause asthma or a dangerous obstruction or blockage in the gut.
When the child has fever, the worms sometimes come out in the stools or crawl out through the mouth or nose. Occasionally, they crawl into the airways and cause gagging.
- Use latrines
- Wash hands before eating or handling food
- Protect food from flies
Mebendazole and piperazine will usually get rid of roundworms.
WARNING : Do not use thiabendazole for roundworms. It often makes the worms move up to the nose or mouth and can cause gagging.
THREADWORM (Pinworm, Enterobius)
This worm is 1 cm long, very thin and threadlike with white color.
How they are transmitted
These worms lay thousands of eggs just outside the anus. This causes itching especially at night. When a child scratches, the eggs stick under his or her nails, and are carried to the food and other objects. In this way, they reach his or her own mouth or the mouths of others, causing new infections of threadworms.
Effect on health
These worms are not dangerous. Itching may disturb the child’s sleep.
Treatment and prevention
- A child who has pinworms should wear tight diapers or pants while sleeping to keep him or her from scratching his or her anus.
- Wash the child’s hands and buttocks (anal area) when he or she wakes up and after he or she has a bowel movement. Always was the child’s hands before eating.
- Cut the child’s fingernails very short.
- Bathe the child and change the clothes often. Wash the buttocks and nails very well.
- Put Vaseline in and around the child’s anus at bedtime to help stop itching.
- Give mebendazole worm medicine. Piperazine also works but needs 7 days of treatment. When one child is treated for worms, it is wise to treat the whole family at the same time. For a home remedy, you can use garlic.
- Cleanliness is the best prevention for threadworms. Even if medicine gets rid of the worms, they will be picked up again if care is not taken with personal hygiene. Pinworms only live for about 6 weeks. By carefully following the guidelines of cleanliness, most of the worms will be gone within a few weeks, even without medicine.
WHIPWORM (Trchuris, Trichocephalus)
This worm is 3 to 5 cm long with pink and gray color. This worm, like the roundworm is passed from the feces of one person to the mouth of another person. Usually, this worm does little harm but it may cause diarrhea.
In children, it occasionally causes part of the intestines to come out of the anus (prolapse of the rectum).
The same as roundworm
If the worms cause a problem, give mebendazole. For prolaspse of the rectum, turn the child upside down and pour cool water on the intestine. This should make it pull back in.
This worm is 1 cm long and has a red color. Hookworms are not usually seen in the feces. A stool analysis is needed to prove that they are there. The worms suck blood and can cause anemia. There is a similar worm called strongyloides which may be found in the stools of children or adults.
How hookworms are spread
- The baby hookworms enter a person’s bare feet. This can cause itching
- In few days, they reach the lungs through the blood stream. They may cause a dry cough (rarely with blood)
- The person coughs up the young worms and swallows them
- A few days later, the person may have diarrhea or a stomach ache
- The hookworms attach themselves to the walls of the gut, where they feed on the blood they suck. Many worms can cause weakness and severe anemia.
- The hookworm eggs leave the body through the person’s stools. The eggs hatch on moist soil.
Heavy infections of hookworm are nearly always in people of 15 years old or over, so hookworm disease and the anemia which follows is a problem for adults, and is much less common in children. Unless a stool test in a child with anemia shows a heavy hookworm infection, look for other causes of anemia.
Use mebendazole or albendazole. Treat anemia by eating foods rich in iron and if necessary by taking iron pills.
In the intestines, tapeworms grow several meters long. But the small, flat, white pieces (segments) found in the feces are usually about 1 cm long. Occasionally, a segment may crawl out by itself and be found in the underclothing.
People get tapeworms from eating pork (pig meat), beef (cow meat) or other meat that is not well cooked.
Make sure that all meat is well cooked, especially pork. Make sure that no parts in the center of roasted meat are still raw.
How it is spread
- It starts from the cysts in the meat.
- When a person eats poorly cooked meat, the cysts become tapeworms in the intestine.
- The cysts may cause headache, fits or death.
- In the stool being passed by the person having adult tapeworm, segments of the tapeworm is found which develops to eggs.
- The eggs that entered the person’s mouth from his feces, through lack of cleanliness can form cysts in the person’s brain.
- The pig eats the eggs in the stool.
- The eggs of the worm that the pig ate form cysts in the meat.
Effect on health
Tapeworms in the intestines sometimes cause mild stomach aches, but few other problems
The greatest danger exists when the cysts (small sacs containing baby worms) get into a person’s brain. This happens when the eggs pass from the person’s stools to the person’s mouth. For this reason, anyone with tapeworms must follow the guidelines of cleanlinesss carefully and get treatment as soon as possible.
Take niclosamide (Yomesan) or praziquantal.
NOTE : For the medicines and dosages to treat all the types of worms can be seen here