A pinworm infection often occurs in school-age children (5-10 years old), but is the most common type of intestinal worm infection. Pinworms are parasitic worms that are thin, white and are about a half inch in length. The picture depicts the process of a person getting a pinworm infection by the fecal-oral route. First, a pinworm infection happens when pinworm eggs are carried to the mouth by contaminated food, drink or fingers. Second, the eggs hatch in the intestines and mature into adult worms. Finally, female pinworms leave the intestine at night through the anus and lay eggs in the surrounding skin. This causes the anal area to itch and when it is scratched, the eggs stick to the fingers. The eggs are then transferred to other people directly by hand or indirectly, through contaminated bedding, toys, toilet seats, clothing, food or any other surface. This is why young children spread pinworm easily, especially at schools, daycare centers and other institutional settings because eggs can survive up to two weeks at room temperature. The symptoms of a pinworm infection are minimal, so most people may not know they have an infection, thus causing a continuous cycle of contamination.
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