Fear of worms (parasitic)

Fear of worms (parasitic): An abnormal and persistent fear of being infested with parasitic worms called helminths. The technical term for this fear is helminthphobia. The eggs of parasitic worms can contaminate air and water, particularly where hygiene is poor. They can also contaminate foods such as pork and beef as well as pets and wild animals, objects such as toilet seats, and feces (bowel waste).

Pinworms, roundworms and tapeworms are examples of helminths. After helminth eggs enter the body, they hatch and live there, usually in the intestines. The diseases they cause are often mild, but sometimes serious. Trichinosis, a disease caused by helminth eggs that may contaminate pork, can have serious complications and cause death.

Sufferers of helminthphobia worry excessively about trichinosis and other helminth diseases even though proper measures may have been taken to prevent a helminth infestation. For example, they may avoid eating pork altogether even though they know such entrees as pork chops and sausage have been thoroughly cooked. In addition, even though their living environment is spotless, they may fret unduly about helminths.

“Helminthphobia” is derived from the Greek “helmins” (worm) and “phobos” (fear).

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