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Pinworms in the Child Care Setting


Pinworms are tiny parasitic worms that live in the large intestine. The female worms lay their eggs around the anus at night. Symptoms include anal itching, sleeplessness, irritability, and anal irritation due to scratching. Pinworms may also be present without symptoms. Pinworms are common in school-aged children.

Pinworms are spread when an uninfected person touches the anal area of an infected person (e.g., during diaper changing) or sheets or other articles contaminated with pinworm eggs, then touches the mouth, transferring the eggs, and swallows the eggs. An infected person can spread pinworms by scratching the anal area, then contaminating food or other objects which are then eaten or touched by uninfected persons. Pinworms can be spread as long as either worms or eggs are present. Eggs can survive up to 2 weeks away from a human host.

To prevent the spread of pinworms: If you suspect a child has pinworms, call the parents and ask them to have the child diagnosed. Exclude a child with pinworms from the child care facility until 24 hours after the the child has seen a physician and received the first treatment. The entire family may have to be treated to prevent reinfection. Observe proper handwashing among children and adults, particularly before eating and after using the toilet. Clean and disinfect bathroom surfaces. Vacuum carpeted areas. Machine wash bed linens and hand towels using hot water. Machine dry using a heat setting (not air fluff). The family should do the same at home. Require that the nails of all children in your care be kept short and discourage nail biting. Discourage children from scratching the anal area. Parents should be asked to make sure that the child is bathed after treatment and just before returning to child care. This will help remove any eggs that were laid around the anus before treatment.

Note: This information is not intended to take the place of your state's or locality's child care regulations and laws. In every case, the laws and regulations of the city, county, and state in which the child care facility is located must be carefully followed even if they differ from these recommendations.

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