The Worms Inside
If you’ve seen the latest horror movie on exorcism, The Devil Inside, I totally wish I could reimburse you the $12 you wasted on the ticket. I can, however, tell you about something that is 10 times more frightening than having a demon inside you. It’s having worms.
Dogs and cats aren’t the only things that can be affected by parasitic worms. Over 25% of the world’s population has these creepy-crawly pests inside of their bodies. Mostly the infections are isolated to Third World countries, but you could still be at risk for contracting them while vacationing or even camping.
Parasitic worms are invertebrates with flat or round bodies that live inside their host (aka you) and survive by stealing your body’s nutrients. They are divided up into three categories including Nematodes, Cestodes and Trematodes. Some of the most common types of worms that affect humans are roundworms, hookworms, tapeworms and whipworms.
An estimated 4 million people in the United States are infected with roundworm. The roundworm can grow to be up to 12 inches long and mainly lives in the intestines.
The tapeworm is one of the grossest worms that could get inside you. These disgusting creatures are what horror films are made of and can grow up to be more than 27 feet long! Imagine, a 27 foot worm living inside of you. Icky, huh?
You can get worms by ingesting bad or undercooked meat, coming into contact with infested water, feces, or soil, or getting bitten by a contaminated mosquito.
So how can you reduce your chances of getting worms? Prevention starts with personal hygiene. Make sure to wash your hands before eating and after using the bathroom. Keep your fingernails short so dirt doesn’t get underneath them. You should also be showering daily and wearing clean, unsoiled clothes to kill possible worm eggs. If you go outside, always make sure to wear shoes or at least flip-flops. Some species of worm can enter your body through your feet. If you own a dog, get it tested for worms and if you ever need to pick up after it, use a baggie or plastic glove. Also, make sure that all meat you eat is thoroughly cooked. Aside from getting food poisoning from undercooked meat, you can also get tapeworm.
Aside from personal hygiene, it is also important to check your risk for parasitic worms if you go on vacation. Research the location you’re traveling to and see if there is a high potential for worms there. Also be sure to check if there’s clean running water sources and proper sanitation.
Worms are gross. They’re even grosser to have inside of your body. Stay critter-free and stay healthy.
About Stephanie Weaver Stephanie is a full time freelance writer from Philly. In her spare time, she enjoys playing roller derby and spending time with her English bulldog, Brit.