1-2-5. Enterobius vermicularis in its adult form
3-4. Enterobius vermicularis eggs on human feces
- The nematode (roundworm) Enterobius vermicularis (previously Oxyuris vermicularis) also called human pinworm. (Adult females: 8 to 13 mm, adult male: 2 to 5 mm. ) Humans are considered to be the only hosts of E. vermicularis. A second species, Enterobius gregorii, has been described and reported from Europe, Africa, and Asia. For all practical purposes, the morphology, life cycle, clinical presentation, and treatment of E. gregorii is identical to E. vermicularis.
- Eggs are deposited on perianal folds . Self-infection occurs by transferring infective eggs to the mouth with hands that have scratched the perianal area . Person-to-person transmission can also occur through handling of contaminated clothes or bed linens. Enterobiasis may also be acquired through surfaces in the environment that are contaminated with pinworm eggs (e.g. , curtains, carpeting). Some small number of eggs may become airborne and inhaled. These would be swallowed and follow the same development as ingested eggs. Following ingestion of infective eggs, the larvae hatch in the small intestine and the adults establish themselves in the colon . The time interval from ingestion of infective eggs to oviposition by the adult females is about one month. The life span of the adults is about two months. Gravid females migrate nocturnally outside the anus and oviposit while crawling on the skin of the perianal area . The larvae contained inside the eggs develop (the eggs become infective) in 4 to 6 hours under optimal conditions . Retroinfection, or the migration of newly hatched larvae from the anal skin back into the rectum, may occur but the frequency with which this happens is unknown.
- A person infected with pinworm is often asymptomatic, but itching around the anus is a common symptom. Diagnosis of pinworm can be reached from three simple techniques. The first option is to look for the worms in the perianal reqion 2 to 3 hours after the infected person is asleep. The second option is to touch the perianal skin with transparent tape to collect possible pinworm eggs around the anus first thing in the morning. If a person is infected, the eggs on the tape will be visible under a microscope. The tape method should be conducted on 3 consecutive mornings right after the infected person wakes up and before he/she does any washing. Since anal itching is a common symptom of pinworm, the third option for diagnosis is analyzing samples from under fingernails under a microscope. An infected person who has scratched the anal area may have picked up some pinworm eggs under the nails that could be used for diagnosis.
All photos taken by me