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Whip Worm

Richard Speare Richard.Speare at jcu.edu.au
Fri Oct 31 19:58:24 EST 1997

Dear Birdie

On Fri, 31 Oct 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.

The infection you refer to as whip worm seems more of a problem than I
would have expected.  Are you talking about Trichuris trichiura?  This
nematode parasite is usually not difficult to eradicate in travellers
once they have returned home.  

To clarify the case, one has to be systematic. Can I ask you some

1. Was the diagnosis made by finding eggs of Trichuris trichiura in
faeces?  If the diagnosis was not made by finding eggs in faeces or by
finding the adult worm, I would consider that the diagnosis of "whip worm"
is very unreliable.

2. Assuming the diagnosis has been made from finding the parasite, the
next step is to kill the worms, usually with mebendazole 100 mg twice a
day for 3 days. 

3. The course of infection is monitored by repeating faecal
examinations. One would expect that in most cases a single course of
therapy would be 100% effective in eradicating the infection in a patient
in a non-endemic area. Test faeces perhaps 1 week after therapy, and if
negative, again in 2 months.

4. Monitoring of the effect of therapy on the worm should not be done by
following changes in clinical signs. This is a totally different aspect
since clinical signs may be due to factors other than the presence of whip

Hope this helps.


Rick Speare

Department of Public Health and Tropical Medicine
James Cook University

Phone:	-61-(0)77-225700
Fax:	-61-(0)77-225788
email:	Richard.Speare at jcu.edu.au

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