Trichuris spp.
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Nematoda
Class Enopla
Sub-class Dorylaimia
Order Trichocephalida
Super-family Trichinelloidea
Family Trichuridae
Genus Trichuris
Species T. vulpis, T. suis, T. campanula

Also known as: Whipworm

Trichuris ovis from sheep faeces - Joaquim Castellà Veterinary Parasitology Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Trichuris ovis in caecum - Supplied by Biomed Image Archive
Trichuris vulpis - Courtesy of the Laboratory of Parasitology, University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine


The Trichuris worms, part of the Trichinelloidea superfamily, are so called due to their characteristic whip like structure. They have a broad posterior end tapering to a long and narrow neck which is inserted into the caecal mucosa. They have a direct life cycle, moving directly into the definitive host from the infective L1 egg stage. Once ingested the larva is freed from the egg casing due to digestion of the plugs at either end of the egg. The larvae then form mucosal nodules in which to develop before emerging into the lumen of the large intestine and caecum of the host.


The eggs of Trichuris species are yellow/brown in colour and are bioperculated (have a plug in each end). They are hardy eggs and in the correct conditions can survive on pasture for up to 12 years. The Trichuris embryo develops inside the egg and is infective as the 1st larval stage living within the egg.
Hatch from the egg into the small intestine and there grow and moult until the reach adulthood.
Attach to the mucosa of the large intestine.

Life Cycle

The life cycle is not a standard nematode life cycle as these species are infective within the egg at a very early stage of embryo development. This means infective eggs can be present on pasture within 10 - 14 days of adult patency. Eggs are transferred to pasture in the feaces of the host animal and then ingested by animals grazing on the pasture; feaco-oral spread. Thrichuris spp. have no tissue migratory period, living their entire lives in the small and large intestine of the host.

Important Species

There are several species of veterinary importance, each typically infecting a different host species;

  • Trichuris vulpis; the dog whipworm
  • Trichuris campanula (Europe) and Trichuris serrata (North America); cat whipworms, though these are only seen rarely.
  • Trichuris suis; the pig whipworm


Adult worms bury the thin anterior into the intestinal mucosa and feeds on tissue secretions from the damaged cells rather than blood. The invasion of the worm causes eosinophilia in the host animal as it mounts an immune response against the worm. The most common clinical signs are:

Trichuris Learning Resources
VetstreamVetlexicon advert button.png
To reach the Vetstream content, please select
Canis, Felis, Lapis or Equis
CABICABI logo.jpg
Literature Search
Search for recent publications via CAB Abstract
(CABI log in required)
Trichuris publications since 2000

WikiVet® Introduction - Help WikiVet - Report a Problem