Whipworm infection is an infection of the large intestine with a type of roundworm.
Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors
Whipworm infection is caused by the roundworm, Trichocephalus trichiura. It is a common infection that mainly affects children.
Children may become infected if they swallow soil contaminated with whipworm eggs. When the eggs hatch inside the body, the whipworm sticks inside the wall of the large intestine.
Whipworm is found throughout the world, especially in countries with warm, humid climates. The main risk factor for infection is swallowing soil contaminated with feces. Some outbreaks have been traced to contaminated vegetables (believed to be due to soil contamination).
This is the classical appearance of the Trichuria (whipworm) egg. The eggs are highly infectious. After a person eats contaminated food, the worms hatch from the eggs and live in the intestine, causing vomiting and diarrhea. (Image courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.)
Review Date : 9/28/2008
Reviewed By : Jatin M. Vyas, PhD, MD, Instructor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.