For the first time in ages, this is a post that I’m writing because I have to. This is my virtual scream – please don’t let that put you off though, there’s some things in here that you really need to know.
A couple of weeks ago I discovered that Ellie had got threadworms. That isn’t what made me want to scream though.
It’s actually the second time she’s had them now. Even that though, is not what has made me scream.
What’s really made me scream is the reaction from a very very small number of people. I did what any responsible parent should do – I informed the school and I also told some of my mum friends directly, so they could keep an eye out for their children. I did this because it’s the right thing to do and because your child having threadworms is nothing to be ashamed of.
When you hear the reactions from some people who clearly don’t know anything about threadworms, it was hardly surprising when Ellie came home from school one night this week saying that one child had told everyone ‘not to touch Ellie’s legs because she’s got worms.’ Fortunately the other children were far too sensible to pay any attention and supported my daughter – not least because they know she doesn’t have worms anymore since they were treated immediately almost two weeks ago.
So, for the sake of clarity, if you haven’t come across threadworms yet, here are a few facts from the NHS direct website:
Fact 1. Threadworms are the most common type of worm infection in the UK, and they are particularly common in young children under the age of 10. [It is estimated that up to 40% of children under 10 years of age may be infected with threadworms at any one time.]
Fact 2. Threadworm infections are most common in young children because they often forget to wash their hands regularly and they often share things like toys with other children.
Fact 3. A threadworm infection is passed from person to person as a result of swallowing threadworm eggs. Crucially though, eggs can survive for up to 3 weeks on surfaces [i.e. your child might well wash their hands rigorously but if they touch an egg from anywhere and then touch their mouth (sadly under 10's do that alot!!) then they can catch them.]
Fact 4. If you or your child has a threadworm infection, it is not necessary to stay off work or school.
So just to be clear Threadworm infection is not about being a dirty person. Washing hands is crucial but that does not guarantee anything – it reduces the risk, but can not get rid of it.
So please please please if you hear that a child in your daughter/son’s class has threadworm don’t use words like dirty and don’t over react – be vigilant, remind your child about hand washing and think before you speak.