Clinical Presentation In Humans
people that are infected with T. trichiura are asymptomatic due
to light infections. However, in people with heavy infections, whipworm
can cause gastrointestinal problems, such as abdominal pain, diarrhea,
mucous or bloody stools weight loss, painful urination, and weakness.
Rectal prolapse is a hallmark, albeit rare, symptom of a heavy T.
trichiura infection that occurs in children more frequently than
adults. When rectal prolapse occurs, worms can often be identified on
the edematous rectum.
Whipworm in the gut
Most symptoms associated with whipworm can be attributed to the burrowing of worm heads into the intestinal epithelium. This can result in increased fluid secretion and/or decreased absorption of fluid in the colon. Large increases in luminal fluid content cannot be adequately reabsorbed, and can lead to dehydration, diarrhea, or loss of electrolytes and nutrients. Also, there is some blood loss due to embedded whipworms in the gut.
Prolapsed Rectum, image courtesy of Dr. Scott Smith