November 30, 2005 6:13 PM   Subscribe

Has anyone here actually had worms? The medical sites say that 1-2 billion people have intestinal worms, with at least 17% of Americans carrying something. You can be anonymous by saying it was a friend that had it, or just mention a friend that really did. Please, no pet stories.

FWIW, myself and a couple of friends had pinworms at one time as a kid, and one former coworker who was in the Gulf War came back with tapeworm (the doctors here didn't diagnose her symptoms until she actually passed segments into the toilet). But that's about it.
posted by chef_boyardee to Health & Fitness (31 answers total)
silusGROK wrote this comment about his friend's... gut buddy.

That phrase will haunt me until I die.
posted by Marit at 6:24 PM on November 30, 2005

Yep; a long time ago. Smallish, harmless things; threadworms? A course of Pripsen (in yummy raspberry milkshake form) saw 'em off.
posted by scruss at 6:26 PM on November 30, 2005

A friend of mine (no! Really! A friend! Not me!) had some kind of particularly strange and vile intestinal worm that she picked up while on travel in, I think, South America. She got rid of it, but developed a phobia of worms, snakes and other legless crawlies.
posted by Rubber Soul at 6:32 PM on November 30, 2005

I had pinworms as a kid, probably from walking around barefoot in the dirt and being a generally grubby nose-picking child with a lot of animals around. I had to drink this blood red syrupy medicine that turned my poop red ... good times. I had a good friend who came back from two years abroad in China with a fairly large tapeworm.
posted by jessamyn at 6:36 PM on November 30, 2005

sure, as a kid i had them more than once. awful! i'm glad to be grown-up now and know to wash my hands, not bite my nails, etc.
posted by purplefiber at 6:46 PM on November 30, 2005

The Worm Within - previously discussed in the blue.
posted by wannalol at 6:48 PM on November 30, 2005

I had pinworms once as a kid as well.. it completely freaked me out at the time. I didn't know (and haven't since) anyone else who had them and admitted to it.
posted by jheiz at 7:02 PM on November 30, 2005

I had ascaris this past summer when I was in Mexico. Cleared right up with the Vermox.
posted by Wet Spot at 7:07 PM on November 30, 2005

Thanks to Peter's city (which I love nonetheless), built on marshlands — or, more precisely, its tapwater, I enjoyed recurring bouts of giardiasis, which I know is a single-celled parasite rather than a worm, but....

In a way, the cure really was worse than the symptoms. The powerful antibiotic treatments wiped out pretty much all my good gut buddies.
posted by rob511 at 7:16 PM on November 30, 2005

As a little kid I had threadworms a couple of times; there would usually be some kind of epidemic round the school, with announcements being sent home, like they do with head lice. Not as an adult, though.
posted by andraste at 7:21 PM on November 30, 2005

Sure. I got worms from my cats, years ago. Another vote for Pripsen - that stuff works. Is there something shameful about having worms? I must have missed the memo.
posted by Decani at 7:25 PM on November 30, 2005

I had a tapeworm as a tweenager in Jordan.
posted by evariste at 7:52 PM on November 30, 2005

I'm reasonably sure I got some intestinal wormy/buggy/icky thing when I was in Peru a few years ago. Self-diagnosed (so take it as you will), and self-treated by doing a shot of pisco every night for three nights running. That stuff'll clear anything up, I swear.
posted by kalimac at 8:00 PM on November 30, 2005

A friend of mine gave up going barefoot all the time, at a college in the U.S. with lots of cats, after discovering worms in his poop. I don't know any more details (since it was my friend, you see).
posted by Aknaton at 8:19 PM on November 30, 2005

Everyone I know who's been in the Peace Corps in South America has gotten some kind of parasite. Most people, I think, get worms as kids, so maybe they just don't remember. For instance, I don't remember whether I ever had lice, just that one year in school we all had to have our heads scrubbed with the lice shampoo, which is something you think you would remember.
posted by Airhen at 8:32 PM on November 30, 2005

I've had thread worms a few times, from my kids.

In Australia, the medicine is Combantrin. The active ingredient is capsi-something, which is the same thing that makes chilies hot. Though it does not give you the "burning ring of fire" like a good jalapeno will.

We were trying natural remedies to get rid of them first, but that didn't work. We were worried about Combantrin, because multiple usage is not supposed to be good for the liver, the stuff works, but they can come back very easily - the eggs last forever and are almost indestructible.

Wash your sheets and clothes regularly in hot water that (may) kill them. Have showers, not baths, and be careful of your underwear, keep them in a separate bag, and wash separately in hot water.
posted by Dag Maggot at 8:40 PM on November 30, 2005

Dog Maggot: That would be Capsaicin.
posted by mmascolino at 9:06 PM on November 30, 2005

My friend discovered that he had a couple of tapeworms. It's unclear how he got them, or how long he had them, though once he took the vermifuge, he could tell when they were gone. I've blocked most of the other details from my mind.

Interestingly childhood exposure to nematodes may play an important role in the development of a properly functioning immune system. Some people think the absense of that exposure might be the reason for the rise in autoimmune diseases, including asthma, in the deeloped world.
posted by Good Brain at 9:24 PM on November 30, 2005

Hookworms may be your friends.
posted by justkevin at 9:30 PM on November 30, 2005

I had some sort of little bugger when I got back from India; I don't think I ever found out, though, since we just nuked 'em from orbit with Vermox.

Heh. "We."
posted by metaculpa at 9:37 PM on November 30, 2005

I've never had worms, but my dad has treated at least one person with them. Years ago, he was working as a resident in the ER in a New York hospital, this man came in at about 4 in the morning. The man said that he could see things crawling under his skin. He'd been turned away from a few other hospitals already, because everyone thought he was just crazy. So, my father put him in an observation room and said, "Okay, when you see something---call me!"

A few hours later, the guy calls out "Doctor! Doctor!" and my dad runs into the room and sees a worm swim from one eye to the other.

The guy had some worm called "Loa Loa", which he picked up from a trip to Africa a year before. I'm not sure how, but I know they got it out of him. (I'm too squeamish to Google it, so no link provided.)
posted by hooray at 9:39 PM on November 30, 2005

Loa Loa links. Warning -- that last one has a picture.
posted by Aknaton at 9:44 PM on November 30, 2005

i had pin worms when i was a little kid. they only come out at night...
posted by thesiameseffect at 11:55 PM on November 30, 2005

If you want to know more about this subject, Parasite Rex is well worth reading.
posted by the cuban at 4:16 AM on December 1, 2005

I too had the pinners in my elementary days, I can now freely admit for the first time ever! I can also attest that the freaks do indeed come out at night.

My mother was a pathology nurse in her youth and had been in the Peace Corps in Central America (before moving to Iran with my dad) so she had quite the collection of parasitology books that I poured over as a kid. I became fascinated with them after my experience with the pin worms, my mother got them out to show me what they looked like and I couldn't get enough of the books!
posted by Pollomacho at 6:22 AM on December 1, 2005

Yes....the blood red syrupy medicine that turned her poop red that Jessamyn mentioned I remember as some of the most vile tasting stuff ever.
posted by Pressed Rat at 6:29 AM on December 1, 2005

When I was about 9 or 10 we apparently had an infection at school and they gave everybody a dose of a medicine that tasted of rasberry ripple ice cream but did a spectacularly thorough job of cleaning out the gut, one way or another, within 4 hours. I don't think they let the person who made the decision to dose everybody at once keep their job for very long.
posted by rongorongo at 6:38 AM on December 1, 2005

They used to say everyone had pinworms by the time they were two, but then, they used to say a lot of things.

You put transparent tape over the kid's fanny at night, and if they come out, they get stuck in the tape, which is how they used to diagnose them.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 7:27 AM on December 1, 2005

Oooh, hooray's comments reminds me about my when my cousin worked for the Peace Corp in Ghana. Here main duty was working with treating and prevent Guinea worm infections.

Guinea worms are much nastier than your average intestinal sucker because they don't stay in your digestive track! They burrow in to other parts of your body and lay eggs. The eggs then grow, and grow and grow in to huge worms under your skin! Some of the pictures she brought back are horrific. Once you get them, the only way to get rid of them (I think) is to slowly, as in over the course of days, pull them out through a hole in your skin.

For the not to faint of heart, here's a picture. IF your interested, google has a lot more info.
posted by gus at 8:38 AM on December 1, 2005

Once you get them, the only way to get rid of them (I think) is to slowly, as in over the course of days, pull them out through a hole in your skin.
Once the worm emerges from the wound, it can only be pulled out a few centimeters each day and wrapped around a small stick. Sometimes the worm can be pulled out completely within a few days, but this process usually takes weeks or months.
posted by Aknaton at 10:47 AM on December 1, 2005

This wasn't related to me by the person involved, and there are likely plenty of details missing, but...

A friend of mine told me about a co-worker of her's who had a seizure (or two) not long after returning from a trip to Tijuana, Mexico. She went to a doctor and ended up finding out there were lesions on her brain, the suspected cause being some sort of worm or parasite that entered her body through contaminated beef she ate in TJ. She was supposed to have an operation relating to the lesions, I'm assuming it got the worms too, or some medication was given to her to take care of that, because this was sometime last year and I've not heard of any continuing worm troubles. It was very sad and freaky to hear about though because WORMS ON THE BRAIN!
posted by DyRE at 3:27 PM on December 1, 2005

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