Trichuriasis

Introduction

 

Agent

 

History of Discovery

 

Symptoms

 

Diagnosis and Treatment

 

Epidemiology

 

Links and References

 

Contact

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diagnosis

The best way to diagnose whipworm infection is through the identification of characteristic football shaped eggs in stool. However, since egg concentration may be low in light infections, the CDC recommends using a concentration technique to collect eggs.

Although it is somewhat easy to identify T. trichiura eggs, there are other diseases that can be confused with a whipworm infection. If eggs can not be found in the stool, diarrhea may be caused by parasitic protozoa like Entamoeba histolytica or Giardia lamblia. In cases where an exact diagnosis cannot be made, it is advised that whipworm infections should be treated for first. If symptoms do not abate, a more thorough investigation is needed.

T. trichiura egg in stool, image courtesy of Dr. Scott Smith

 

Treatment

Although there are not as many treatments available for T. trichiura as there are for hookworm or other roundworm infections, a study published in 1999 found that the most effective treatment for whipworm was a single-dose therapy of albendazole, which produced at 79.3% “cure rate” of adult worms and a 93.8% egg-reduction rate. Albendazole is also used to treat for other nematode infections and works by decreasing whipworm ATP production, causing energy depletion, immobilization, and finally death.
Other drugs that can be used to treat whipworm are mebendazole, which works by selectively and irreversibly blocking glucose uptake and other nutrients in the intestine where helminths dwell, and oxantel.

 

Public Health Strategies

Infection is most common in areas with poor sanitation and tropical climates. Improved sanitation is the most effective way to prevent the spread of whipworm infections. Areas where human feces are used to fertilize crops have high rates of transmission and can reduce those rates by using non-human feces or synthetic fertilizers. Also, since T. trichiura eggs are sensitive to heat, cooking fresh produce will reduce the risk of infection.