Life cycle of the Human Pinworm (Enterobius vermicularis and V. gregorii)
Human pinworm eggs are deposited on the human host's perianal folds (1). Self-infection occurs by transferring infective eggs to the mouth with hands that have scratched the perianal area (2). Person-to-person transmission can also occur through handling of contaminated clothes or bed linens. Enterobiasis (pinworm infection) may also be acquired from surfaces in the environment that are contaminated with pinworm eggs (e.g., curtains, carpeting). A small number of eggs may become airborne and inhaled. These would be swallowed and follow the same development as ingested eggs. Following ingestion of infective eggs, the larvae hatch in the small intestine (3) and the adults establish themselves in the colon (4). The time interval from ingestion of infective eggs to oviposition by the adult females is about one month. The life span of the adults is about two months. Gravid females migrate nocturnally outside the anus and oviposit while crawling on the skin of the perianal area (5). The larvae contained inside the eggs develop (and the eggs become infective) in 4 to 6 hours under optimal conditions (1). Retroinfection, or the migration of newly hatched larvae from the anal skin back into the rectum, may occur but the frequency with which this happens is unknown.