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Whip Worm

William Reeder "wmr-60 at xi.netcom.com" at ix.netcom.com
Sat Nov 1 08:50:52 EST 1997

Birdie wrote:
> Hi,
> A friend of mine acquired a whip worm infestation from, she
> thinks, eating a peach from Chile that she failed to wash before
> ingesting.
> She's had it for awhile now, and has had several therapies.
> I dont know the medicines, but the current one is very strong and
> they seem to building up an immunity to it.
> Is there a list of medicines available - western and herbal-
> for killing the pesky little devils off on the web?
> The western medicines are not working and we were wondering
> if there are any chinese or korean remedies known to be effective.
> This is a serious parasite to have, and, she's had it about a year
> now.
> any help would be appreciated, I'm getting quite concerned for her.
> thank you,
> BirdieDear Birdie - I cannot answer your question but can offer some 
observations.  The first deals with the peach.  Each Trichuris egg 
ingested results in one adult worm.  Of course not all eggs ingested will 
hatch and not all hatched larvae will survive to adulthood. The worms do 
not multiply in the body, each must come from an ingested egg.  The type 
of symptoms you describe would require a heavy worm burden 
meaning a massive or repeated innoculum of eggs. Your peach would not be 
able collect such an abundance of eggs from irrigation water or hands.  
Also the eggs cannot survive exposure to direct sunlight.
This infection is not uncommon in the United States, in 1976 its 
incidence was reported as 2.7%, most infections occur in the South due to 
warmer temperatures and high humidity which favor survival and develpment 
of the eggs in the soil.  In the past incidences of infection in some 
areas of the South reached 25%.  Most infections occur in children 
because they are much more likely to ingest soil then adults.  Also 
humans can become infected with the dog trichuriid T. vulpis, however it 
should be suseptible to the same drugs as T. trichuria.
I cannot find any mention of treatment failures with the common 
antiheminthics, so your case is puzzling.  Reinfection or 
misidentification are what I would be concerned about.  There is a 
related species of worm found in the Philippines and Thialand which is 
much more difficult to treat.   It has an egg similar to trichuris which 
could be misidentified by the inexperienced. 
I hope this information is useful and I hope your friend recovers.

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