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Terms & Synonyms

Official WHO Definition

A worm, which may be parasitic or free-living (WHO 1992).

Other Definitions


Interpretations and Explanations

The word “helminth” comes from the Greek word meaning “worm” and refers to all types of worms, both free-living and parasitic. The major parasitic worms are classified primarily in the phylum Nematoda (roundworms) and the phylum Platyhelminthes (flatworms including trematodes). Helminth parasites infect a large number of people and animals worldwide. For most helminths, drinking-water is not a significant route of transmission. There are two exceptions: Dracunculus medinensis (guinea worm) and Fasciola spp. (F. hepatica and F. gigantica) (liver flukes). Dracunculiasis and fascioliasis both require intermediate hosts to complete their life cycles but are transmitted through drinking-water by different mechanisms. Other helminthiases can be transmitted through water contact (schistosomiasis) or are associated with the use of untreated wastewater in agriculture (ascariasis, trichuriasis, hookworm infections and strongyloidiasis) but are not usually transmitted through drinking-water (WHO 2004).


WHO (1992). A guide to the development of on-site sanitationWHO (2004) Guidelines for drinking-water quality, 3rd ed

WHO (2002) Managing water in the home: accelerated health gains from improved water supplyWHO (2001) Water quality: Guidelines, standards and health

WHO Lexicon page (translations and examples)

See also

External Resources


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