Design, Nature or Luck?

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Today I want to visit with you regarding a subject that will not interest about 80% of you.  So for you 20% who find interests in subjects that are not widely talked about or even known about, let’s go!

The Pinworm is fascinating.  There are three known species of these creatures scientist proclaim.  There are two that we can talk about as we have evidence of their existence and how they live.

One breed lives inside the chimpanzee and one breed lives inside us… It should be no secret that the human host parasites but, the pinworm is a creature that with some effort can be removed from you and your family’s bodies, if you happen to have them.

The pinworm infects the host either by inhaling the eggs, or by ingesting them.

This is probably the best argument for keeping pets out of your bed as the pinworm eggs can live on an animal’s hair, migrate into your bed sheets or other linen, and make their way into your system.

From the womb to adulthood most people sleep with a hand near their face.  I would argue that this is a leftover behavior from sucking the thumb from inside the womb but, I digress.  The simple fact is that we do.

The pinworm is ingested either by being airborne from possibly making the bed, or your child’s bed, or by petting your pet causing the eggs to become airborne.  They are also ingested by placing your unwashed hand either in, or by your nose or mouth.

Once ingested, the worm (egg) stays in your duodenum (opening to the small intestine), until hatched.  From there, it makes it way through the small intestine and takes up residence in the ileum.  It is in this area that the pinworms set up house.  They live by extracting nutrition from colonic contents.  They mate here and shortly after mating the male worms die, and are expelled with the fecal material.

The female worm or (gravid), becomes almost completely filled with eggs.  When the time is right the worm makes her way to the anus and actually comes out to

A: get air for her eggs

B: lay her eggs in the folds of the tissue of the anus.

By her wriggling around during this process this action can cause an itching sensation to occur.  Part of the reason that this condition affects children, more than adults is children will scratch what itches, and will not in most cases wash their hands afterwards.  The eggs get trapped under the fingernails and are now ready to be disseminated either from what the child touches, toys, each other etc, but also to re-infect the host by the child eating something that he or she touches or by simply putting that thumb into their mouths.

Adults are not immune as we also have pets that may get into our bed and we also hug and cuddle the little host known, as children.  How many times have you seen an adult or, possibly you have done this; allow the child to put their hand into your mouth.

Once inside the mouth, the process starts all over again or in the case of the adult begins.

Never fear, once detected there is a cure that usually involves the entire family and the frequent washing of pajamas and bed linen until the all clear sign is given by your health care provider.  It is also a good idea to wash the Childs toys with some sort of disinfectant, especially if your child is in a day care facility.

On a side note, it would be interesting to know if there are protocols in place to keep this sort of germ / parasite transmission down in daycare facilities.

Why does this interest me you ask?  My interest in this is the process that the animal lives and propagates.  We see many symbiotic relationships not only in the animal kingdom, but with plants and insects, plants and animals and so on.  Here is one more “relationship” where this animal depends on us, and our nature.

The mechanism for which this animal survives, by causing the itch around the tissue of the anus for the host to “scratch” that itch and the eggs are then either transported to other opportunities, or to re-infect the host. (Scratch what itches, and put our hands near our face or into our mouths.)

One other way that we stay infected (argue some scientist) is that the new born pinworm makes its way back through the anus and “goes against the current” so to speak, making its way to the ileum to become part of the process of reproducing.  This process is highly debated and if indeed it can occur in this manner than the rate of reoccurrence by this method is low.

You ask, “How do you know if you or your child is infected.”  Before the child’s morning bath, take some cellophane, “transparent” tape and apply it to the area of the anus.  Remove the tape and seal it into a plastic bag and take it to your health care provider.  He or she can examine it under a microscope and not only give you a positive or negative result but, if positive can identify your particular critter.  There are drugs to kill them.

Are they harmful?  The most common side effect is enterobiasis or (anal itching).

My apologies if I have “creeped you out.” So go wash your hands and insist that your family does the same.

Fun fact: did you know that “creeped” has recently crept into our language?  Although spell check does not like it; the word is viable and in fact means: off-putting, or to weird out or possibly even frightening.

-Best to you and those that you care about.

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