Main » Infectious diseases » Soil-mediated Helminthiases » Trichuriasis
Trichuris trichiura has a direct life cycle. Eggs passed in the faeces are swallowed with soil-contaminated food. The eggs hatch into larvae which penetrate the villi of the small intestine. After three to 10 days the young worms pass down to the caecum where the whip-like anterior portion becomes entwined in the mucosa.
Photo 1. Adult morphology, females and males. The adult worms are about three to five cm long, the females being slightly larger than the males which are coiled.
Photo 2. Adult morphology, females and males too.
Photo 3. Whipworms in situ. The adult worms are readily seen in this figure of the caecal mucosa.
Photo 4. Rectal prolapse. Heavy infections in infants and young children may cause rectal prolapse following chronic diarrhoea with abdominal pain.
Photo 4. The whipworm, Trichuris trichiura life cycle.
The whipworm, Trichuris trichiura adults inhabit the caecum (A) and sometimes the colon and rectum where they are attached to the mucosa. Eggs passed with the faeces (B) mature in the soil to larvae (C, D) which remain in the eggs. Eggs can readily contaminate vegetables, eg when nightsoil is used as fertiliser (E) or sanitary habits are otherwise primitive, and are then swallowed in uncooked food (G). The eggs hatch in the small intestine and the developing larvae pass directly to their attachment sites in the large intestine (A). Females commence egg-laying after about 3 months.
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