Worm Infestation

Worm infestation occurs when worms live as parasitic adults in the human gastrointestinal tract.

Worms that infect humans can be divided into three groups:

  • Roundworms, whipworms, hookworms
  • Tapeworms
  • Flukes

A patient with a mild infection may not show any symptom. However, some may experience itching around the anal area especially at night when the female worm deposits eggs in the perianal region. Other symptoms include poor appetite which leads to weight loss, stomach discomfort, restless sleep and inability to concentrate. A worm passed with a stool may also be discovered by the patient.

The most common route of transmission for worm infestation is the anus-to-mouth route. This is because eggs are often found under the fingernails of the infected person who has scratched the anal area. When the infected person uses the contaminated fingers to handle and ingest food, the eggs are transferred directly from the anus to the mouth.

Eggs dislodged from the perianal area into the environment can also be inhaled. Eggs may also be spread by house dust, from pets or through contact with contaminated objects such as bedding, cups, utensils and doorknobs.

What you can do

  • Wear tight undergarments to prevent migration of worms
  • Keep fingernails short to prevent harboring of the eggs beneath the fingernails which may lead to re-infection
  • Wash hands frequently especially before meals and after using the toilet
  • Bathe every morning to remove eggs deposited in the perianal region during the night
  • Wash all bedding and clothes of the infected individual and the family members in hot water daily during the treatment period
  • Do not shake these items as it can spread eggs into the air
  • Clean the floor by vacuuming or damp mopping for several days after treatment
  • Disinfect toilet seats regularly

You can prevent  worm infestation

  • Drink safe and clean water
  • Proper cleaning and cooking of food
  • Regular hand washing particularly after bowel movement and before eating
  • Avoid nail biting

When to see a doctor

  • Pregnant or breast-feeding
  • Under 2 years old
  • Anemic
  • Liver diseases
  • Symptoms persist after treatment
  • Recurrent infection

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This article is not a substitution for professional medical care or professional instructions about taking medicines.
Babies, young children below 12 years old and elderly have special health needs are advised to seek professional consultations.
If you are pregnant and have a health condition, please consult your family doctor.
Anyone taking non-prescription drugs should carefully read the instructions and warnings on the package.
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