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Whipworm infection

  • Definition
    • Whipworm infection is an infection of the large intestine with a type of roundworm.

  • Alternative Names
    • Trichuriasis

  • Causes
    • Whipworm infection is caused by the roundworm Trichuris trichiura. It is a common 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. Some outbreaks have been traced to contaminated vegetables (believed to be due to soil contamination).

  • Symptoms
  • Exams and Tests
  • Treatment
    • Mebendazole taken by mouth for 3 days is commonly prescribed when the infection causes symptoms. A different anti-worm medicine may also be prescribed.

  • Outlook (Prognosis)
    • 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, many other infections and illnesses can cause similar symptoms.

  • Prevention
    • Improved facilities for feces disposal have decreased the incidence of whipworm.

      Always wash your hands before handling food. Thoroughly washing food may also help prevent this condition.

  • References
    • Diemert DJ. Intestinal nematode infections. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman's Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 365.

      Maguire JH. Intestinal nematodes (roundworms). In: Mandell GL, Bennett JE, Dolin R, eds. Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Churchill Livingstone; 2014:chap 288.