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Enterobiasis

A benign intestinal disease, enterobiasis has several other names, including oxyuriasis and pinworm and seatworm infection. Found worldwide, this disease is common even in temperate regions with good sanitation. More than 40 million Americans are estimated to be infected; it's especially prominent among school children.

Infection and reinfection most often occurs in children between ages 5 and 14 and in certain institutionalized groups because of poor hygiene and frequent hand-to-mouth activity Crowded living conditions commonly enhance its spread to several members of a family.

Causes

Enterobiasis is a pinworm infection. Pinworm infection may be caused by a small, white intestinal worm or more formally, Enterobius vermicularis. The pinworm is about the length of a staple and lives for the most part within the rectum of humans. Direct transmission occurs when the patient's hands transfer infective eggs from the anus to the mouth. Indirect transmission occurs when the patient comes in contact with contaminated articles, such as linens and clothing.

If family members continue to be infected by enterobiasis, a source outside the house may be responsible. It is the most common worm infection in the United States. Worldwide, approximately 200 million people are infected. It It is most commonly affects school-age children.

Symptoms and Signs

The symptoms of the enterobiasis may be included:
  • anus
  • weight loss
  • excoriation
  • intense itching
  • disturbed sleep
  • irritability
  • insomnia
  • vaginal irritation
  • restlessness
  • loss of appetite
  • infection of the skin

Diagnostic tests

Identification of Enterobius ova recovered from the perianal area with a cellophane tape swab confirms the diagnosis. A stool sample usually is ova- and worm-free because these worms deposit the ova outside the intestine and die after migration to the anus.

Treatment

Drug therapy with pyrantel pamoateor mebendazole destroys these parasites. Effective eradication requires simultaneous treatment of family members and, in facilities, other patients.

Prevention

The disease can be prevented by treating all the infected cases and thus eliminating the source of infection. Some ways to keep from catching or spreading the disease include the following recommendations:

  • Wash hands thoroughly before handling food and eating.
  • Keep finger nails short and clean.
  • Avoiding scratching the anal area.
  • Take early morning showers to wash away eggs deposited overnight.
  • Once the infection has been identified, and treatment is started, change the bed linen, night clothes, and underwear daily.
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