Trichuris trichiura (also called Whipworm) is an intestinal nematode or roundworm that causes a disease known as Trichuriasis in Humans.
Trichuris trichiura Morphology, Eggs and Characteristics
Trichuris trichiura is named as Whipworm because of its structure the adult worms can grow to about 3 to 5cm in length (the females are slightly longer than the males) and have very thin anterior part that looks like a whiplash and a thicker posterior part that looks like the handle of a whip hence the name Whipworm. The adult whipworm is found mainly in the cecum where the females lay about 2000 to 14,000 eggs daily.
The whipworm eggs have yellow-brown colors and thick shells that can help them remain viable for months or years and are about 50 to 55 micrometer in diameter with the shapes of lemon. The larvae of Trichuris trichiura takes a few weeks to develop from the embryonated eggs.
Trichuris trichiura Mode of Transmission
Humans become infected with Trichuris trichiura by ingesting the eggs in food or water that has been contaminated with human feces. The whipworm eggs therefore are the infective stage of Trichuris trichiura.
Trichuris trichiura Life cycle
- Ingested whipworm eggs hatch into larvae in the small intestine
- While in the small intestines the larvae differentiate into immature adults
- The immature adults then migrate to the colon where they become mature and mate producing thousands of fertilized eggs every day which are passed in the feces
- Whipworm Eggs that find suitable environment such as moist and warm soil become transformed into embryos.
- Whenever the embryonated eggs become ingested again, the whipworm life cycle is becomes completed.
Trichuris trichiura Symptoms and Signs
- Most mild whipworm infections show no symptoms (they are said to be asymptomatic)
- There may be anemia especially in heavy worm infestation
- Rectal prolapse (Hemorrhoid) in children having heavy whipworm infection
- Weight loss
Trichuris trichiura Diagnosis
Diagnosis of whipworm infection (Trichuriasis) is made by identification of the whipworm eggs in stool. The whipworm egg is barrel-shaped (lemon-shaped) and has two plugs: one at each end.