|Trichuris egg in stool sample (40x)|
Several, see text
The roundworm family Trichuridae includes as type genus Trichuris often referred to as whipworms (which typically refers to T. trichiura only in human medicine, and to any other species in veterinary medicine). The name whipworm refers to the shape of the worm; they look like whips with wider "handles" at the posterior end. The name Trichocephalus is sometimes used for this genus.
The genus Trichuris includes over 20 species which infect the large intestine of their host, including:
- Trichuris campanula (cat whipworm)
- Trichuris suis (pig whipworm)
- Trichuris muris (mouse whipworm)
- Trichuris trichiura (sometimes Trichocephalus trichiuris) - causes trichuriasis
- Trichuris vulpis (dog whipworm)
Other species in this genus include Trichuris cynocephalus, Trichuris discolor, Trichuris laevitestis,Trichuris pardinasi, Trichuris navonae,Trichuris ovis, Trichuris rhinopithecus, Trichuris thrichomysi and Trichuris travassosi.
Dog and cat whipworms
Egg of Trichuris vulpis
Whipworms develop when a dog swallows whipworm eggs, passed from an infected dog. Symptoms may include diarrhea, anemia, and dehydration. The dog whipworm (Trichuris vulpis) is commonly found in the U.S. It is hard to detect at times, because the numbers of eggs shed are low, and they are shed in waves. Centrifugation is the preferred method. There are several preventives available by prescription from a veterinarian to prevent dogs from getting whipworm.
The cat whipworm is a rare parasite. In Europe it is mostly represented by Trichuris campanula, and in North America it is more often Trichuris serrata more often.   Whipworm eggs found in cats in North America must be differentiated from lungworms, and from mouse whipworm eggs that are just passing through.
Trichuris campanula can be found in cats throughout the United States, having a whip like shape, living in the large intestine and cecum of cats. T. campanula is closely related to T. vulpis which is a dog whipworm. They both come belong the Trichuris genus that are roundworms also known as whipworms. The cat gets infected with T. campanula by ingesting food or water that is contaminated with the whipworm eggs. Once the cat ingests the infected eggs, they hatch and the larvae mature as adults in the large intestine where they feed on the blood from the intestinal wall. The T. campanula lays eggs that are passed in the feces of the infected cat, remaining alive in soil for years. The infection can be found by examining the feces of the infected cat. Also, blood can be found in the feces that can help in diagnosing of the infected cat. For prevention, cats should visit the veterinarian to get worming, having the feces inspected. Pet owners should be more aware of what their pets consume, and pick up the cat feces to prevent future infections from occurring. Also, litter boxes need to be cleaned to remove any contaminated feces. Currently, there are no drugs to help infected cats remove all of the worms. The best way to avoid a cat being infected is by practicing good prevention techniques. (4)
- Roberts, Larry S.; Janovy, Jr, Robert (2009). Foundations of Parasitology (8th ed.). McGraw Hill. p. 399. ISBN 9780073028279.
- Liu GH, Gasser RB, Nejsum P, Wang Y, Chen Q, Song HQ, Zhu XQ (2013) Mitochondrial and nuclear ribosomal DNA evidence supports the existence of a new Trichuris species in the endangered François' leaf-monkey. PLoS One 8(6):e66249. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0066249
(4)Nash, Holly. "Whipworms (Trichuris serrata) in Cats". Veterinary Services Department. Retrieved 8 December 2011.