No worms please...we're American
July 25, 2006 11:16 AM   Subscribe

Are threadworm/pinworm infections more common in the UK than in the US?

I only ask because nobody I've spoken to here has heard of them, let alone admit to having had them.

My step-son loves to walk around barefoot. He also likes to put his feet in his mouth. He is 12 years old, so this is not really appropriate behaviour. Anyway, I was explaining to him that putting his foot in his mouth after walking barefoot was probably a good way to pick up threadworms. The other adults in the room (all American) looked at me like I was mad. Intestinal worms? In Southern California?

I've read somewhere that they affect 4 in 10 children under 10. I remember having them as a child (I was an avid nail chewer) and having to drink some disgusting "raspberry" goo.

So, does anyone know if these little parasites are more prevalent in the UK? Also, am I correct in thinking that walking around barefoot then sucking your feet is a pretty good way to contract them?
posted by kar120c to Health & Fitness (13 answers total)
I had 'em as a kid, but I spent a lot of time in the woods in western PA.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 11:38 AM on July 25, 2006

I also had them as a kid, in northern Florida. I ran around barefoot in water retention ditches. I imagine it's entirely possible to contract them if he doesn't wash his feet before sucking on his toes. If you can't get him to stop doing one or both actions, at least make him rinse the dirt off. Eew.
posted by coffeespoons at 11:55 AM on July 25, 2006

My son had 'em. Ontario, Canada, major urban centre. Now every time he complains about washing his hands I say "pinworms!" and he washes 'em.

Presumably the US CDC or NIH or someone should have data on this kind of infection.
posted by GuyZero at 12:03 PM on July 25, 2006

This thread might be worth looking at.
posted by JMOZ at 12:04 PM on July 25, 2006

Pinworms are really common in pre-school and kindergarten around my area (Austin), at least.
posted by Addlepated at 12:19 PM on July 25, 2006

Oops, I meant this comment. I could have sworn there was another thread about pinworms to reduce allergies. I guess I'll look a bit.
posted by JMOZ at 12:37 PM on July 25, 2006

Ah, found it, but it was hookworms. Sorry!!
posted by JMOZ at 12:43 PM on July 25, 2006

Pin/hookworms may not be all bad... See this K5 article for information on the contraction, maintenance and asthma-symptom-easing effects of hookworms.
posted by terpia at 12:50 PM on July 25, 2006

Hey! I found some data here:

"In the United States alone, prevalence is estimated to be between 20-40 million, and a CDC surveillance study conducted in 1992 in 35 states found that 11.4% of 9597 tests for pinworm infection were positive. While it is mainly seen in children, pinworm cases have been documented in adults, especially in households where infected children transmit the infection to the rest of the family. Prevalence in children in certain communities has been found to be as high as 61% in India, 50% in England, 39% in Thailand, 37% in Sweden, and 29% in Denmark."

So, yes, pinworm is more common in the UK, but it's not unheard of in the USA.
posted by GuyZero at 12:56 PM on July 25, 2006

Every kid in my neighborhood got them one year. I grew up in north Georgia, we never had shoe on. Gross.
posted by stormygrey at 1:00 PM on July 25, 2006

Response by poster: Thank you all. I was beginning to think it was something only us dirty Brits contracted. You know, kind of goes with the bad teeth and once a week bathing habits. ;-)

GuyZero: thanks for that info. 20-40 million in the US alone? That ought to get him to stop sucking his feet. If not, he's getting to the age where telling him that girls don't dig that kind of thing might work.

JMOZ: Thanks for reminding me about that hookworm post. Yuck.
posted by kar120c at 1:14 PM on July 25, 2006

As a kid, I walked around barefoot a lot (grew up in Miami). I had pinworms once and it totally freaked me out. I have vivid memories of screaming and running into my mom's room, waking her up with a wormy bit of toilet paper. Ew.
posted by necessitas at 1:31 PM on July 25, 2006

Inland Southern California here. I had 'em, my siblings had 'em, my kids had 'em and now it's about time my grandkids have 'em. Frankly, I'd be worried about kids that don't have pinworms at one time or another. IMO, any kid that never has a case of pinworms isn't spending enough time outdoors doing typical kidstuff.
posted by buggzzee23 at 2:45 PM on July 25, 2006

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