Controlling intestinal worm infections
On a regular OPD visit, a child came to me with a case of persistent pinworms infestation (enterobiasis). She had been suffering for 5-6 months despite taking worm medications 3-4 times. Based on the medical facts about these worms, certain points were highlighted and once corrected, she got cured. Intestinal worms are a common childhood problem and most children suffer from pinworms. Children complain of perianal itching in the night that is known to cause lack of sleep and abdominal pain. These adult female worms come out of the anus and lay multiple eggs which can cause reinfestation and persistence of the infestation in the family. These eggs survive for three weeks and can remain on undergarments, bedsheets and covers and can also be carried by air and ingested by soiled hands. They then hatch and develop as adult worms and the cycle continues. One can notice the threadworms crawling in the area with a torch.
TO PREVENT THE SPREAD, TAKE THE FOLLOWING STEPS:
Avoid swallowing tap water during bathing, brushing, and swimming.
Wash hands thoroughly for few seconds with soap before eating. Use a brush to clean the areas between fingers and below the nails. Also, wash hands after handling diapers. Cut nails short. Avoid perianal itching. Shower immediately after waking up rather than bathing as eggs may enter in water and can be swallowed.
Wash undergarments, towels and pyjamas in hot water with detergent. Also, do not shake these garments as eggs can disperse.
All the family members and if feasible, classmates should be dewormed. In this way, this pinworms problem can be controlled. Other worms which also cause children infestation are roundworms (ascariasis), hookworms (ankylostomiasis), and whipworms (trichuriasis). These all are transmitted by ingestion of eggs passed out in stools and ingested by mouth. They cause various symptoms such as abdominal complaints, cough, wheeze, bowel obstruction, anaemia and overall poor health. Good sanitation along with strict hand hygiene can prevent these worms infestation.