What are whipworms?

Whipworms commonly infect the bowel of children in Southern Africa. They are short, thin worms (about 4 cm) that attach themselves to the mucosa of the large bowel where they cause bleeding. It is rare to see the worms in the stool.

As with roundworms, eggs are ingested (swallowed) with soil. The eggs hatch in the child’s gut and the larvae attach to the bowel wall. Unlike roundworms, the larvae do not migrate through the lungs.

The whipworm is Trichuris trichura. The eggs in the stool have a typical ‘tea tray’ appearance.

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