Worm infection in school children is more common than you think, as a matter of fact, they typically have the highest burden of worm infection than other age-group. Infection is caused by soil-transmitted helminths. The main types of parasitic worms that infect humans are:
‘Ascaris’ the assassin (Roundworm)
‘Trichuris’ the terrorist (Whipworm)
Noxious ‘Necator’ (Hookworm)
How do the worms wriggle their way into the body?
These parasitic worms make their way into our bodies as eggs, which are passed in the stools/faeces of infected people. Once in the gut (intestine), the eggs hatch to grow into adult worms where they produce thousands of eggs each day. In areas that lack adequate sanitation, these eggs contaminate the soil and in turn infect humans. This can happen in several ways:
Contaminated vegetables and fruits that are not carefully cooked, washed or peeled
Contaminated water sources and vessels washed with this water
Ingestion of eggs by children who play in the contaminated soil and then put their hands in their mouths without washing them
Speaking of soil, hookworm eggs hatch in the soil, the mature larvae can actively penetrate the skin. Therefore, hookworm infection is primarily by walking barefoot on the contaminated soil. There is no direct person-to-person transmission, or infection from fresh faeces because eggs passed in faeces need about 3 weeks to mature in the soil before they become infective.
Let’s dig deep and look at how these worms affect the body……
Worm infection has an adverse impact on the child’s nutritional status in multiple ways. Take a look –
- Worms feed on host tissues, including blood leading to a loss of iron and protein.
- Moreover, hookworms cause chronic blood loss in the gut that can result in anaemia.
- Not only do worms increase malabsorption of nutrients but roundworms specifically compete for vitamin A in the gut.
- Some worms cause loss of appetite and, therefore, a reduction of nutritional intake and physical fitness.
- Few parasitic worms can even cause diarrhoea and dysentery.
On the whole, worm infections can result in anaemia, malnourishment, impaired mental (cognitive) and physical development (growth). Thus it can pose a serious threat to children’s health, education (like reduced school attendance and performance) and productivity.
Also, take a look at the symptoms of worm infection in kids.
Quick tips on how to prevent & control worm infection…
Children need to be educated to wash hands with soap especially before and after using the toilet and eating; keep nails short and clean; wear shoes/slippers; drink clean water; keep their surroundings clean and not defecate in the open. Bear in mind that fruits and vegetables need to be washed well, in clean water and to always keep food covered.
It is very important in to make sure your child is dewormed regularly. Do contact your child’s paediatrician or physician for the same.
Disclaimer: The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and/or diet.