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"Rope worms" (or "ropeworms") is a pseudoscientific term for long thin pieces of intestinal lining or other bowel content that have been misidentified as human parasitic worms. "Rope worms" were reported in 2013 in two self-published papers by Volinsky, Gubarev et al. In fact, they are not actual parasites, but intestinal lining shed from the gut following the use of bleach enemas (sodium chlorite mixed with citric acid, forming chlorine dioxide and marketed as Miracle Mineral Supplement) and other similarly ineffective and dangerous cleanses and treatments, such as the lemon enema described by Volinsky intended to remove parasites.
The phenomenon results from a misunderstanding and misidentification of intestinal artifacts expelled from the body. These "ropeworms" are often discussed, with images shared and claimed as evidence of successful detoxing, on autism forums and Facebook groups, where bleach enemas (for example MMS) are falsely claimed to cure autism. In one group, 8500 members have allegedly been charged $60 to join, half a million dollars combined, leading to questioning of the leaders' intentions.
Autism is a neurological disorder, and not caused by parasitic worms. Because they know what they are doing is not sanctioned by medical studies and is considered abusive, parents in these groups may be reluctant to take their children to their doctors, even when dangerous reactions are apparent, such as vomiting, exhaustion, dehydration, and extremities turning yellow indicating damage to the liver. Doctors and other mandatory reporters are generally required to report suspected child abuse to child protective services.
- Sapp, Sarah G. H.; Bradbury, Richard S.; Bishop, Henry S.; Montgomery, Susan P. (March 2019). "Regarding: A Common Source Outbreak of Anisakidosis in the United States and Postexposure Prophylaxis of Family Collaterals". The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. 100 (3): 762. doi:10.4269/ajtmh.18-1019. ISSN 0002-9637. PMC 6402927. PMID 30843503.
- Tabbalat, Rinad Ramzi; Cal, Nicolas Vital; Mayigegowda, Kavya Kelagere; Desilets, David John (August 2019). "Two Cases of Gastrointestinal Delusional Parasitosis Presenting as Folie á Deux". ACG Case Reports Journal. 6 (8): e00183. doi:10.14309/crj.0000000000000183. ISSN 2326-3253. PMID 31737714.
- Harriet Hall (2014-05-27). "Rope Worms: C'est la Merde". Science-Based Medicine. Retrieved 2019-01-09.
- Self-published articles that misidentified rope worms:
- Alex A. Volinsky, Nikolai V. Gubarev, Galina M. Orlovskaya, Elena V. Marchenko (2013). "Human anaerobic intestinal "rope" parasites". arXiv:1301.0953 [q-bio.OT].CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
- Alex A. Volinsky, Nikolai V. Gubarev, Galina M. Orlovskaya, Elena V. Marchenko (2013). "Development stages of the "rope" human intestinal parasite". arXiv:1301.2845 [q-bio.OT].CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
- William Parker (6 May 2015). "Helminths: ASD Cause or Potential Treatment". Autism Research Institute. Retrieved 2019-02-14.
- Stefan Sirucek (12 March 2015). "The Parents Who Give Their Children Bleach Enemas to 'Cure' Them of Autism". Vice. Retrieved 2 January 2019.
- "So-called cures". National Autistic Society. Retrieved 2019-02-14.
- Norris, Sophie; Clarke-Billings, Lucy (Aug 8, 2017). "Secret Facebook group reveals how parents use bleach enemas on autistic children in bid to 'cure' disability". Mirror. Retrieved 5 January 2019.
- "Autism Spectrum Disorder Fact Sheet". National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Retrieved 2019-02-17.
- Mandatory Reporters of Child Abuse and Neglect, 2019-01-28, retrieved 2019-02-17
- Mother Exposes DIY Treatment for Autism, The Doctors, 2017-09-19, retrieved 2019-02-17