A worm that feeds on the juices of your gut's tissue. Mmmhhh...

Trichuriasis is a bowel infection with the the whip worm, Trichuris trichiura, a 2-5 cm long parasite . It is widely distributed all over the world, but prefers warmer climates.

Infection requires the victim to ingest eggs ripened in soil, which makes children the most likely patients, as they tend to be the ones picking dirty things up from the ground and sticking them into their gob.

After ingestion the worm tends to take ca 3 weeks to full maturity and then bores into the lining of the gut (pretty much anywhere in the large bowel, so caecum, colon and rectum can all be affected) and live off the tissue "juices".

Symptoms are rare, as most patients don't have enough worms on board to cause problems, but bloody diarrhoea, rectal prolapse and anaemia seem to be the most common ones. Diagnosis is via microscopic evaluation of the eggs.

Light infections are not worth treatment, but Mebendazole 100mg twice a day for 3 days should do the trick.

All in all a comparatively harmless little critter, especially compared to Strongylidiasis, Taenia saginata and Ancylostoma duodenale.

Dion R. Bell: Tropical Medicine, 4th Edition, Blackwell Science, 2000