Pinworms are small, parasitic, contagious worms that grow in small intestines and cause excessive itching in the anal or vaginal area. People unknowingly swallow the microscopic organisms through contaminated hands and this spreads the infection rapidly.
Symptoms of pinworm include loss of appetite, stomach aches, nervousness, irritability, insomnia, bed wetting, nausea and vomiting.
Different types of pinworms are known but not every type causes infection. Pets like dogs and cats may also have pinworms, but they are different from the ones that infect people. The myth of dogs catching pinworms hence is incorrect. Generally dogs get infected with tapeworms which are mistaken for pinworms. In fact, pinworms are found only in humans and are responsible for a significant percentage of intestinal worm infections in the U.S.
Since the pinworm infection spreads through eggs, dogs could be the carriers of this parasite. In the sense, when an infected person plays with a dog, he can pass on the eggs to the pet and this dog can pass on the infection to another person who has not been infected. These pets can also spreads the eggs to every room of the house including sheets, walls, carpets and clothes.
Most of the intestinal worm infections can be prevented by self care and good hygiene. Washing your hands regularly during the day especially after playing with children and pets is one of the best methods to avoid the spreading of eggs of the worms. It is also advisable to not share the same bed, towels, clothes and toilet of the infected person.
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