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Common Name: Whipworm

Scientific Name: Trichinella spiralis

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Nematoda

Class: Adenophorea

Order: Trichurida

Family: Trichinellidae

Genus: Trichinella

Species: T. spiralis

Trichinella spiralis is a parasitic worm that causes the disease Trichinosis. A whipworm is a roundworm that infects the large intestine. Whipworms are found commonly in pork and are often called pork-worms. They are also found in rats, humans, dogs and cats. These worms can get from 4-7 centimeters long and are usually white. Whipworms are distinctive from other worms because they look like a whip, one end is wider like the handle and the other half is thinner. Whipworms live in Africa, Asia, South America, and North America. They are found mostly in the rural southeast of the United States. Trichinella s. survives well in their environment because the female worm can produce 10,000 eggs per day. More the 2.2 million people in the United States alone are infected by these parasites. The niche of the whipworm is living in the intestinal lining of host’s large intestines. The whipworm population is not endangered and this parasitic worm can live for several years if not treated. The female Trichinella spiralis can lay up to 10,000 eggs a day. Though the more whipworms that are being found and treated the more their population decreases.

Whipworms live in the lining of the large intestine, and it feeds off blood and fluid in the tissue. Trichinella s. does not have to compete for food. This parasite doesn’t compete for food because it has no one or nothing to compete with. They also have no predators, other than one artificial predator. The only predator a whipworm has is manmade medicine. The medicine taken to get rid of the whipworm is Mebendazole. Trichinella spiralis cannot live past the medicine and it will decrease the whipworms ATP production. Mebendazole blocks glucose in the helminthes, and albendazole. The whipworm causes the disease Trichinosis which can be fatal if not treated soon enough.

Symptoms of trichinosis are fever, muscle soreness, pain and swelling under eyes, chills, weakness, and chest pain. Symptoms usually appear 10 – 14 days after you are diagnosed. The way to treat trichinosis is by killing the source or worm, by using Mebendazole. The best way to prevent trichinosis spreading anywhere else is to make sure all meat products are cooked completely.

Author: Savannah H.

Published: 2/2007

Sources: trichinellaspiralis

Photo Credit: Ricardo Caminoa and Ricardo Veneroni

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