Trichuriasis is a helminthiasis that is caused by whipworms. Whipworms are parasitic nematodes of the family Trichuridae. These worms are characterized by their whip-like appearance. Their anterior end is slender and long whereas their posterior end is thick and resembling a handle.
Trichuriasis in humans is caused by Trichuris trichiura (or Trichocephalus trichiuris). The adult worms are found in the large intestine of the human host and may live for over than a year. The female whipworm can produce 2,000 to 10,000 eggs per day. The eggs are released along with the stool. Ingestion of the embryonated egg is the mode of infection. The larva hatches from the egg in the small intestine to grow and develop. In time, the larva moves to the large intestine to attain maturity. The worms are 30-50 mm in length and attach themselves to the mucosa of the large intestine. Adult worms may live 4-8 years.
It may be the most common helminthic infection found in Americans returning from subtropical and tropical areas. Often, trichuriasis has no symptoms but heavy whipworm infestation can lead to abdominal pain and distention and bloody or mucous-filled diarrhea are some of the common symptoms. Treatment is with mebendazole.
Word origin: Trichiura ("whipworm") + -isis
- whipworm infection
- whipworm infestation