Worms in Adults
There are several types of worms that can cause problems in adults, including threadworm, roundworm, pinworm and hookworm.
One of the things that worm infections have in common is that they're incredibly contagious – which means that if one member of the family picks up worms, the rest of the family living in close proximity to them are at a higher risk of contracting it too. That's why it's so important to treat the whole family thoroughly if one member finds themselves experiencing symptoms of a worm infection.
The spread of worm infections
It may be a few days before you realize that your child has picked up worms, and in that time you've likely come into plenty of close contact with them, whether you're helping them get dressed for school, playing with them outdoors or even sharing everyday items like colored pencils or computer keyboards. Threadworms are easily spread so the slightest contact can pass on the infection, which is why many adults end up with the same infection as their children.
To halt the spread of worms, it's crucial to treat all members of the family – not just the youngsters! Adults should take a deworming treatment as soon as their little one shows any symptoms (which can include irritability, tiredness, loss of appetite and an itchy bottom, among others). Follow-ups in two to four weeks are also highly recommended if signs and symptoms of an infection are still present.
Asymptomatic worm infections
Some worm infections don't have any symptoms – they are asymptomatic, which can lead the infected party to believe they're in perfect health. Adults in particular may actually show no signs of infections, so don't take the risk – if someone in your family has a threadworm infection, treat the whole clan immediately. It's likely you've shared a cuddle, touched the same utensils or picked up the same item as the person with the infection, and there's a high likelihood that the infection has been passed on to other family members.
If roundworm, hookworm, pinworm or threadworm is suspected in any family member, seek medical advice immediately.
Facts about adult worm infections
Did you know that the risk of other family members catching a threadworm infection from an infected child is as high as 75%1? Did you know that the eggs are infective within a few hours of being deposited and may remain viable for up to 3 weeks2
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2 Prociv P., Gastrointestinal Worm Infections, Australian Family Physician, 2001; 30(8): 755-761