The nematode whipworm Trichuris trichiura is a parasite that is transmitted by ingestion from soil-contaminated hands or food and causes trichuriasis. Infection is most common in warm environments, especially when there is poor sanitation and greater risk of fecal contamination of soil, or when food is grown in soil using manure as a fertilizer. The signs and symptoms may be minimal or nonexistent. When a substantial infection develops, signs and symptoms include painful, frequent diarrhea that may contain mucus and blood. It is possible for the infection to cause rectal prolapse, a condition in which a portion of the rectum becomes detached from the inside of the body and protrudes from the anus. Severely infected children may experience reduced growth and their cognitive development may be affected.
When fertilized eggs are ingested, they travel to the intestine and the larvae emerge, taking up residence in the walls of the colon and cecum. They attach themselves with part of their bodies embedded in the mucosa. The larvae mature and live in the cecum and ascending colon. After 60 to 70 days, females begin to lay 3000 to 20,000 eggs per day.
Diagnosis involves examination of the feces for the presence of eggs. It may be necessary to use concentration techniques and to collect specimens on multiple days. Following diagnosis, the infection may be treated with mebendazole, albendazole, or ivermectin.
Parker, N., Schneegurt, M., Thi Tu, A.-H., Forster, B. M., & Lister, P. (n.d.). Microbiology. Houston, Texas: OpenStax. Access for free at: https://openstax.org/details/books/microbiology