1 out ever 5 people on the planet still require treatment for intestinal worms (1.5 billion people). The most common forms of intestinal worms are hookworm, ascaris (roundworm), and trichuris (whipworm). These parasites have stymied human health for generations, causing pain, stealing nutrients, and stunting both physical and cognitive growth in children, preventing them from reaching their full potential.
(1) These parasites spread through contamination caused by the feces of an infected person. Hookworm is primarily transmitted by walking barefoot on contaminated soil. Roundworm and whipworm are transmitted by ingesting the parasite’s eggs.
(2) 200 roundworms are considered a “moderate infection” in a child’s intestines. Each worm can be between 8-12 inches.
(3) In 1910, John D. Rockefeller donated $1 million (the equivalent of $26 million dollars in 2019) to establish the Rockefeller Sanitary Commission for the Eradication of Hookworm Disease (RSC) in the southern states of the United States.
(4) Treating kids for intestinal worms has a meaningful effect on their ability to learn. Studies show that deworming children actually leads to less absenteeism. For girls in particular, deworming increases their chances of graduating secondary school. And over time, children who are dewormed earn more money than their peers who are not.
(5) The primary way to treat kids for intestinal worms is through “school-based deworming campaign” – in which school-age children receive medicine at school. Schools make it easier to treat because children are already there and their teachers can easily be trained to distribute the medicine. In fact, the system has become so efficient that we can provide treatment for less than 25 cents per student per year in certain countries.
(6) The life cycle of all three types of intestinal worms include a pulmonary stage where the larvae are in the lungs of their human host and they move up the bronchial tubes. Then, they are coughed up and then swallowed – they eventually end up in the intestines where they mate and produce eggs.
(7) And finally, roundworms were found in fossilized feces from Peru dating back to 2277 B.C.