Different Types of Worms in Children

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Parasitic worms are worms that live in and feed off the human body. They are found in a person's intestines and are known as Roundworms and Flatworms. Studies in South Africa have shown that school children have the highest rate of infection, especially with soil-transmitted parasites.


Is Ringworm a Type of Worm Infection?

Ringworm is a fungal infection of the skin and is not a worm as the name suggests. It is a common skin infection that parents should be aware of so that they can recognize it and provide appropriate treatment.


What Are Some Risk Factors for Contracting worms?

If your child gets worms, it is not a reflection on you. It may be due to limited access to clean water or adequate sewage systems where your child lives and plays. Another factor is the close contact with other children in schools with limited facilities. Children aged 5 to 10 years old are the most affected, but younger children who attend play-schools are also susceptible


What are the Different Type of Roundworm in Children?

Roundworms are parasitic organisms that have their own digestive systems. They typically have long, round bodies which can vary in size depending on the species. These worms reside in the digestive tracts of humans and are spread when they are excreted from the host's body and end up in the soil. They can infect other people who come into contact with the contaminated soil. Some common types of roundworms include Threadworm/pinworm, Hookworm, Ascariasis, and Whipworm.


How Can My Child Contract Threadworm/Pinworm?

If your child spends a lot of time playing in a sandpit, they are at an increased risk of contracting threadworm or pinworm. Threadworms are spread when children scratch their bottom, causing the eggs to collect under their fingernails. The child then carries the worm eggs back to their mouth with their hands. They swallow the eggs, which travel to the lower intestine where they grow into worms. Eggs can also be spread indirectly in food, dust, or other items. These eggs can survive up to two weeks outside the body.


What Is a Hookworm?

Hookworms are parasitic worms that infect the small intestine. They are small, less than 0.5 inches long, and attach themselves to the intestinal wall with hooks in their mouths. Hookworm infections are most common in tropical and subtropical regions and are caused by contact with soil contaminated with human faeces.


How Can My Child Contract Hookworm?

Children are at high risk because they play barefoot in contaminated areas. Infection occurs when hookworm larvae penetrate the skin and enter the bloodstream. They then move to the lungs, throat, and bowel where they mature into adult worms. Adult hookworms hold onto the bowel wall with hooks, causing minor bleeding, and lay eggs that are excreted in the stool.


What is Ascariasis?

Ascariasis is a type of parasite that infects the human intestine and is the most common worm infection in humans. The larvae and adult worms reside in the small intestine and can cause intestinal diseases. Ascariasis eggs are excreted in the faeces of infected individuals and can be spread in the environment if the infected person defecates outside or uses their faeces as fertilizer. The eggs can mature into an infective form in the soil, and ascariasis is caused by ingesting these eggs. This can happen if contaminated hands or fingers are put in the mouth, or if fruits or vegetables that have not been properly cooked, washed, or peeled are consumed.

Who Is at Risk of Getting Infected with Ascariasis?

Ascariasis is prevalent in warm and humid climates where sanitation and hygiene are inadequate, including temperate zones during warmer months. People in these areas are at risk of infection if they ingest soil contaminated with human faeces or consume unwashed, unpeeled, or undercooked fruits and vegetables.


How Can I Prevent Worm Infestations in My Children?

To prevent worm infestations in children, it is recommended to practice good hygiene habits such as frequent hand washing. Hands should be washed after using the bathroom or changing a nappy, before meals, after coming back from outdoors and after contact with pets. It's also important to wash fruits and vegetables thoroughly before giving them to the child, and to cook meat products well. Drinking water should be clean and boiled and cooled before consumption. Additionally, it's advisable to deworm all members of the family, caregivers and pets regularly.


How Is Worm Infections Diagnosed?

If you suspect you have a worm infection, your healthcare provider can diagnose it by taking a sample of your stool and examining it under a microscope for the presence of eggs. In some cases, infected individuals may notice a worm in their stool or cough one up. If this happens to you, bring the worm specimen to your healthcare provider for diagnosis.

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