Intestinal worms affect millions of children worldwide.
Older children can learn and share knowledge about the life cycle of intestinal worms, the available treatment for worms and what they can do to prevent the chances of worm infestation like good hygiene practices and wearing shoes.
Scroll down to read our Top Ten messages on Intestinal Worms for children to learn and share, plus ideas on what children can do to understand, find out more, take action and reflect on this topic.
Download our 100 Messages PDF to have a copy of all our messages for printing and sharing.
Millions of children have worms living inside their body, in a part called ‘the intestines’ this is where the food we eat is digested by our bodies.
Most worms live in a part of our body called the large intestine. This is where our bodies work hard to take the nutrients out of our food, leaving waste that comes out of our body as poo and water that comes out of our body as pee. Having worms is very common. As many as 1.5 billion people in the world have worms in their bodies right now. That is the same as one person in every four.
Different kinds of worms can live in our bodies like roundworm, whipworm, hookworm and bilharzia (schistosomiasis). There are others too!
Roundworms are very common. The female can grow up to 40cm long and can make 2000 eggs every day. Pin worms live in our intestine. They make our bottoms itch because this is where they come out to lay eggs. Hookworms attach themselves to our intestines and drink our blood. Five hookworms can drink one spoonful of blood every day. Imagine how weak you would feel if you had 100 hookworms drinking your blood? Schistomaisis worms live in water snails. They burrow into our feet and legs if we drink or play in water where the snails live.
Worms can make us feel ill or weak and they can cause stomach aches, coughs, fever and sickness.
When worms live in our bodies they eat our food and drink our blood. They can leave us feeling tired and unwell. They can stop us growing as quickly as we should and also make it hard for us to concentrate on our work at school. We might have worms if our bottom feels itchy, if our tummy hurts or if we have lost our appetite – but most people don’t even know they have worms
Worms live inside your body so you might not know they are there but sometimes you can see worms in your poo.
Sometimes you can see pin worms because they come out of your bottom at night and lay their eggs making your bottom itchy. You might see them in your poo. If you scratch your bottom you can spread the worm eggs to other people. Children who have a lot of worms in their bodies sometimes have big stomachs, but most children don’t know they have worms. They may have tummy ache, or feel dizzy if they have hookworms, or lose their appetite. Another kind of worm called Guinea worm makes a lump on your leg and the worm has to be pulled out. It’s very painful, but becoming rarer as people are working hard all over the world to get rid of Guinea worms forever.
Worms and their eggs get into our bodies in different ways: some get in from food or drink (like unsafe water). Others get in through bare feet.
To protect ourselves from getting worms we must wash our hands with soap and water after using the toilet, before eating and after cleaning up after a younger child has had a poo. We must always wash vegetables before we eat them or cook them with clean water and only drink water we know is safe to drink. Some worms like to get into our bodies through our feet so we must remember to always wear our sandals when playing outside and especially when we use the toilet. Some worm eggs live in water and we get these worms when we play in or drink dirty water – these worms live in snails and give us an illness called bilharzia which some people call Schistomaisis.
Killing worms with ‘de-worming’ treatment is easy and cheap. It’s given by health workers every 6 or 12 months or more for some worms.
It’s hard to know if we have worms. That’s why we get de-worming medicine at school or go to the health clinic to treat them once or twice every year with our families. De-worming medicine is safe. It kills any worms and their eggs that are in your body. It treats them once and it doesn’t stop you getting them again, that is why it is important to wash your hands before eating and after using the toilet, wash vegetables before eating them raw or cooking them and only drinking water that is clean and safe to drink.
Worm eggs live in pee and poo. Use latrines or get rid of pee and poo safely. Wash your hands with soap after you pee or poo, and if you help someone younger, so worm eggs don’t get on your hands.
Worm eggs live in poo. If we always use a latrine worm eggs can’t get into the soil and don’t get onto our hands or onto our food. Animals have worms too, so we need to keep them and their poo away from the house and away from our drinking water. We need to wash our hands with soap and water after a pee or poo and help younger children to remember to wash their hands after having a pee or poo so they don’t get worms.
Stop worms getting into your body by washing hands with soap after a pee or poo, washing fruit and vegetables, before preparing food, eating or drinking and by wearing shoes.
If we remember to keep our hands clean we can protect ourselves from worms. Worms only live in poo, we can’t catch them from someone else. So if we remember to wash fruit and vegetables before we eat them and remember to always wash our hands with soap and water after using the toilet, playing outside or touching animals and before eating, then we can stop worms getting into our body. If we remind each other to wash our hands and food and if we take de-worming medicine once or twice a year, we can stop worms infecting us.
Some worms live in the soil – so always wash your hands with soap after touching soil.
When someone has worms the worms make eggs and the eggs come out in their poo. The eggs are so tiny we can’t see them. If we don’t use a toilet but poo in the bush, worm eggs can get into the soil. The eggs in the soil get onto our hands and bare feet when we play outside and they get dirty. Eggs can get onto vegetables from the dirt they grow in.
When watering plants to eat, make sure you use water that cannot have human pee or poo in it.
When we grow vegetables we must keep the vegetable garden free from our poo. We need to use water that hasn’t got our pee or poo in because this will put worm eggs into the soil. The worm eggs in the soil get onto the vegetables and when we harvest and eat them, the worm eggs can get into us. So keep the vegetable garden clear of pee and poo and use clean water to water produce.
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