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DPDx is an education resource designed for health professionals and laboratory scientists. For an overview including prevention and control visit www.cdc.gov/parasites/whipworm/.

Trichuriasis

[Trichuris trichiura]

Egg of T. trichiura in an unstained wet mount.

Egg of T. trichiura in an unstained wet mount.


Adult male T. trichiura removed during a colonoscopy.

Adult male T. trichiura removed during a colonoscopy.

Causal Agent

The nematode (roundworm) Trichuris trichiura, also called the human whipworm.


Life Cycle

Life cycle of Trichuriasis

The unembryonated eggs are passed with the stool The number 1. In the soil, the eggs develop into a 2-cell stage The number 2, an advanced cleavage stage The number 3, and then they embryonate The number 4; eggs become infective in 15 to 30 days. After ingestion (soil-contaminated hands or food), the eggs hatch in the small intestine, and release larvae The number 5 that mature and establish themselves as adults in the colon The number 6. The adult worms (approximately 4 cm in length) live in the cecum and ascending colon. The adult worms are fixed in that location, with the anterior portions threaded into the mucosa. The females begin to oviposit 60 to 70 days after infection. Female worms in the cecum shed between 3,000 and 20,000 eggs per day. The life span of the adults is about 1 year.

Geographic Distribution

The third most common round worm of humans. Worldwide, with infections more frequent in areas with tropical weather and poor sanitation practices, and among children. It is estimated that 800 million people are infected worldwide. Trichuriasis occurs in the southern United States.

Clinical Presentation

Most frequently asymptomatic. Heavy infections, especially in small children, can cause gastrointestinal problems (abdominal pain, diarrhea, rectal prolapse) and possibly growth retardation.

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  • Page last reviewed November 29, 2013
  • Page last updated November 29, 2013
  • Content source: Global Health - Division of Parasitic Diseases and Malaria
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