FAQ

What can harm the worm population?

The following page lists substances that may harm your worm population: Caring for your worm population

What do Hookworm eggs look like?

The images (right) are Necator americanus hookworm eggs at 100x and 400x magnification.

Hookworm eggs are oval or elliptical, 40 x 60 µm, with a thin transparent hyaline (glass-like) shell membrane. When released by the worm in the intestine, the egg contains an unsegmented ovum. During its passage down the intestine, the ovum develops and thus the eggs passed in faeces have a segmented ovum, usually with 4 to 8 blastomeres.

The eggs of Necator americanus and Ancylostoma duodenale (another common type of hookworm not suitable for this therapy) are indistinguishable. You would have to hatch them in the lab to correctly identify.

Lifecycle: According to Wikipedia hookworms like to bread in warm earth where temperatures are over 18°C. They exist primarily in sandy or loamy soil and cannot live in clay or muck. Rainfall averages must be more than 1000 mm (40 inches) a year. In the soil they grow to L3 larvae and infect people via exposed skin (typically bare-feet). The L3 mature into L4 adults in the lower intestine of the host where they lay eggs that pass out with faeces back to the soil and so the cycle continues. You should never see hatched hookworm L1 larvae in a fresh stool sample.

In the west shoes and toilets break this life cycle. In poorer communities worming dogs and digging latrines at least 6 feet deep also breaks the cycle (since hookworms can climb up to 4 feet in the right soil conditions).

What do Strongyloides stercoralis eggs look like?

This creature is mentioned simply because it is such a trouble maker in many of the poorer, remote parts of the world. It is the reason why you should take great care in excepting an eggs from a stranger. And why you should never exposing yourself to insanitary conditions or wear bear feet in poorer areas of the world.

The eggs look identical to hookworm eggs, but they grow faster. In fresh stool you may see eggs with the usual 4 to 8 blastomeres (see above), *but* you may also see fully developed eggs about to hatch, as well as hatched L1 larvae.

Below are some shots of more developed strongyloides eggs. Hookworm eggs in fresh stool normally wont look as developed unless you wait 24 - 48 hrs.

Image from TropicalMed.eu

Image from Wormbook.com: In freshly isolated faeces direct examination of a thick smear will reveal eggs and, or L1 stages.

The eggs are ellipsoid, 40–85μm in length, with a thin wall containing a larvae. Unlike hookworms this parasite can also hatch and live their full lifecycle inside the host. Strongyloides larvae is hard to identify since it is so active and can swim quickly out of view (to another focal plane) when observing under a microscope. One suggestion has been using a few drops of ice water on the slide to slow the creature down. Because of the difficulty in detecting, lab tests for Strongyloides stercoralis can be unreliable and several tests are recommended if infection is suspected.

Important: If you do suspect a Strongyloides infection get immediate professional help. This parasite is extremely infectious (larvae exist in fresh stool). Unlike hookworm the larvae will crawl right off the microscope slide. Bag everything (slides, gloves, fecalyzer etc) and freeze the contents (best way to kill parasite larvae). Seek professional help.

Keep it on your radar as an ova counter. The possibility of any of us ever seeing this creature is I hope remote. Continue reading about Strongyloides & safety...