Seatworm, threadworm, Enterobius vermicularis.
Worldwide, with infections more frequent in school- or preschool- children and in crowded conditions. This parasitic worm is found both in warm and cold climates but enterobiasis (infection with Enterobius vermicularis, the human pinworm) appears to be more common in temperate than tropical countries. Eggs can be found in crowded places such as daycare centres, schools, cinema halls and hospitals. It is the most common worm (helminthic) infection in the United States (an estimated 40 million persons infected).
Although pinworms are usually asymptomatic inhabitants of the intestine, when they do cause symptoms there can be a spectrum of complaints including nocturnal anal itching, teeth grinding, poor appetite, whining, hyperactivity, nervousness, irritability, insomnia, bed-wetting, stomach aches, nausea and vomiting.
Microscopic examination of perianal swab, butt paddle or butt tape (Sellotape slide/cellophane slide or Scotch tape) to confirm the presence of eggs/larvae. Eggs are not found in stools.
Eggs are deposited on perianal folds. Self-infection occurs by transferring infective eggs to the mouth with hands that have scratched the perianal area. Person-to-person transmission occurs through handling of contaminated food, clothes or bed linens. Enterobiasis can also be acquired through surfaces in the environment that are contaminated with pinworm eggs (e.g., furniture, toys, curtains, carpeting). Small number of eggs may become airborne and inhaled. These would be swallowed and follow the same development as ingested eggs.
Following the ingestion of infective eggs, the larvae hatch in the small intestine and the adults establish themselves in the colon. The time interval from ingestion of infective eggs to oviposition by the adult females is anywhere from two to six weeks. The life span of the adults is about two months. Gravid females migrate nocturnally outside the anus and oviposit while crawling on the skin of the perianal area. The eggs become infective in four to six hours under optimal conditions. Retroinfection or the migration of newly hatched larvae from the anal skin back into the rectum is also possible.
Pinworms are an extremely contagious worm infection. The eggs can lay dormant up to two weeks if they are kept at room temperature and they can be found everywhere. The pinworm eggs cause your butt to itch, so you scratch at it, and the pinworm eggs get everywhere – under your nails, on your clothes, furniture, bedding, toilets, bathrooms, toys, food and even in the dust that hangs around your home. Once this happens, your entire family and their close contacts are almost guaranteed to get the same infection.
Pinworm vulva (pinworm vaginitis) and pinworm urethra causing urinary tract infection. This parasite also has been suspected as a cause of appendicitis as histologic findings of acute appendicitis demonstrated pinworms at the section.
Antiparasitic medications are available. Mebendazole and Pyrantel pamoate are the most commonly prescribed drugs which are usually taken by the whole family in two doses, two weeks apart. Talk to your doctor for the appropriate dosages and intervals.
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