How to identify human intestinal worms

Written by jennifer habersham
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How to identify human intestinal worms
Tapeworm infestation can be the result of eating undercooked meat. (selvanegra/iStock/Getty Images)

One of the scariest things you can face is finding something in your stool that you don't remember eating, especially when that something is moving. Even the cleanest of people can pick up an intestinal worm -- you can become infected with these parasites from infested animals, tainted or undercooked food, water and even walking around barefoot. While many types of intestinal worms are invisible to the naked eye, others are quite easy to identify.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Fresh stool sample
  • Gloves
  • Lollipop stick
  • Clear container

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  1. 1

    Complete your bowel movement in the usual way. Do not flush the toilet.

  2. 2

    Put on gloves, remove your stool from the toilet and place it in the clear container.

  3. 3

    Pull the stool apart with the lollipop stick or another disposable wooden implement and search for worms.

  4. 4

    Identify the worm. Pin worms are white, thin, and look like a thread or string. Roundworms are long -- 20 cm (8 inches) or longer -- and thick and off-white in colour. Two types of worms are invisible to the naked eye -- hookworms are dark in colour and have a hooked mouth, and tapeworms are long, flat and can grow up to 4 metres (14 feet) long. You may find tapeworm segments in the stool rather than the entire worm.

  5. 5

    Contact your GP if you find evidence of worms in your stool, or if you think you have a parasitical infection. Worms like Schistosomiasis and Toxocariasis can only be identified by microscope or a blood test.

Tips and warnings

  • Throw away the clear container and stick when you have finished examining your stool sample.
  • Intestinal worms can be very dangerous and sometimes fatal if left untreated.
  • Worms can be transferred easily. Always wash your hands and cook your food properly.

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