Intestinal worms are parasites. In other words, they live in the digestive tracts of other organisms, at their expense. We also talk about “intestinal parasites“. The most common worms in France, especially among children, are pinworms. More rarely, tapeworms, pinworms, and liver flukes are found. Good hygiene makes it easy to avoid them and limit their spread.
Pinworms, tapeworms, roundworms… What are intestinal worms like?
- The most common worms, but also the most benign, are pinworms. So we talk about pinworms. These small white worms are between 5 and 10 mm long. They are very common in children, and very contagious. Contamination is caused by ingestion of eggs while putting dirty food, objects or hands into the mouth. The eggs hatch in the intestine. The worm reaches its adult size in 3 weeks, during which time it has had time to migrate to the rectum. Each female worm lays around 10,000 eggs on the anal margin, usually at night.
- another verse, round worm. It can measure up to 15 cm and colonizes the small intestine, where it feeds on intestinal content. We are talking about ascariasis. In France, it is generally imported by travellers.
- the had, better known as tapeworm, can reach up to 8 meters in length. Extended, it can be very discreet. Like all worms, it enters the body through the digestive tract. There are two species of tapeworm: the veal one (taenia solium) and the pig (taenia saginata). Note: The body of tapeworms is made up of a series of rings about 3 mm by 2 cm, which are shed and regularly fall in the faeces. They can also be found in underwear.
- Finally, the liver fluke is a small worm, less than 2 centimeters, in the shape of an amphora, which settles in the liver (as its name suggests).
There are other parasites, but they are rarer, such as theechinococcosis (linked to parasitic worms in animals), had fox (contracted after eating wild berries contaminated with infested urine) or the tapeworm of the dog (linked to ingestion of eggs after petting the fur of an infected dog).
roundworm it is often asymptomatic, but can cause:
- abdominal pain,
- anal itching, especially at bedtime and at night
- diarrhea episodes,
- Vulvar irritation, including cystitis in young girls.
Had may be responsible for abdominal pain, whether or not it is associated with weight loss. As mentioned above, its presence is noted thanks to the white segments that can be found on the underwear or on the stool.
Ascaris, It is the cause of several symptoms:
- a persistent cough;
- abdominal pain;
liver parasite It usually causes hepatomegaly (enlarged liver), accompanied by pain in the right ribs. Sometimes jaundice accompanied by fever is observed.
What complications after an infestation?
The main complications caused by an infestation of intestinal worms are deterioration of the general condition, if the problem is not addressed. Liver flukes can cause more serious complications, especially in the bile ducts.
How was the diagnosis made?
During the medical consultation, the doctor examines the anal area, looking for lesions and mobile white worms. Associated symptoms also help guide the diagnosis. In case of doubt, a scottish proof can be prescribed, especially in the case of pinworms: it consists of sticking an adhesive tape in the folds of the anus to collect the eggs. This tape is then attached to a microscope slide for analysis in the laboratory. When the doctor suspects another intestinal parasitosis, he may prescribe other tests:
- a parasitological examination of the feces, to look for the presence of eggs. To do this, a stool sample is collected from the patient;
- a blood draw;
- an abdominal ultrasound.
the pinworms The females come to lay their eggs at dusk, around the anus. By scratching, the victim self-contaminates again when she puts her fingers in her mouth. Meanwhile, she lays eggs, which can survive nine days in the open air, on everything she touches.
you had. They adhere to the intestinal wall thanks to their heads equipped with suction cups and hooks. Small flat segments (or rings) 3 mm wide and 1 to 2 cm long contain eggs. When these segments break off, they fall out with the feces and contaminate various animals, such as freshwater fish, cattle, or pigs. The larvae from the eggs then encyst in the animals’ muscles and pass through the digestive tracts of humans when they consume meat that has not been cooked long enough.
Intestinal worms. As for other worms, the females lay eggs, evacuated in the feces, which, due to lack of hygiene, can be found in other foods and perpetuate the cycle of contamination.
liver flukes they are mainly caught by eating watercress or other wild lettuce. They settle in the liver, but most often they infest animals. Man is an accidental guest.
Prevention is based on hygiene.
To prevent intestinal worms, nothing better than impeccable hygiene:
- always wash your hands after going to the bathroom, before eating or preparing a meal;
- change underwear every day;
- avoid sharing swimwear or underwear;
- regularly wash children’s sheets and toys;
- rinse vegetables and fruits well before consumption;
- sufficiently cook meat and fish;
- avoid swallowing water when swimming in the sea, in a pool or otherwise;
- Deworm your pets regularly.
For each parasite, its treatment. But the priority is to prevent the spread around the infected person. To do this, hygiene measures must accompany the taking of medication:
- wash hands and nails very regularly;
- change underwear every day;
- sleep in pajamas and wash night clothes regularly;
- Wash the sheets at 60°C during and after each treatment.
- clean personal and shared items;
- wash bedroom floors, school tables (in case of school contamination).
Treatment of pinworms
The treatment is based on a single dose of flubendazole or albendazole to renew three weeks later, when the eggs have hatched.
Note: Itching in the anus may persist for several days after taking the medication, but this does not mean that the treatment has failed.
To eradicate these unwanted worms, the doctor will prescribe a three-day course of flubendazole, a single dose of albendazole, pamoate, or pyrantel.
To eliminate it, the doctor prescribes two niclosamide chewable tablets in the morning on an empty stomach to renew them two hours later. The user then expels the worm whole or in pieces. This sign of healing is usually impressive.
Treatment of liver flukes
Treatment of liver fluke is based on the prescription of praziquantel.