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Whipworms (Trichuris trichiura) are usually found in humans, but also may be found in monkeys or hogs. They're usually under two inches long and the female can produce 3,000 to 10,000 eggs per day. Larval development occurs outside the host, and in a favorable environment (warm, moist, shaded soil), first stage larvae are produced from eggs in three weeks. The lifespan of the worm is usually considered to be four to six years.

Hundreds of millions of people worldwide, as much as 80% of the population in certain tropical countries, are infected by whipworms. In the US, whipworms are found in the south where heavy rainfall, a subtropical climate, and feces-contaminated soil provide a suitable habitat.

Persons handling soil that has been defecated on by an infected person risk infection by hand-to-mouth transmission. Infection results from ingestion of the eggs. Light infections may not show any symptoms. Heavy infections can result in anemia and death. A stool examination will determine if there is an infection.

Cold winter temperatures of -8°C to -12°C (17.6°F to 10.4°F) are fatal to the eggs, as are the high temperatures of thermophilic composting.38

Source: The Humanure Handbook. Jenkins Publishing, PO Box 607, Grove City, PA 16127. To order, phone: 1-800-639-4099.

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weblife.org | library | Humanure Handbook | Chapter 7: Whipworm