W15 Preventing worms


Many households have animals living either in or around the home. These may include dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, sheep and goats. Sometimes they spend the night in a room next to the sleeping areas. They are part of everyday life. However, all animals and birds carry microbes and worms. After handling animals and birds, it is very important to wash hands before handling food or water.

There are a number of different worms that can live inside our bodies. Many are too small to see; others we can sometimes see in faeces. They use food that our bodies should benefit from and stop children from growing well. Sometimes they cause stomach pain or itching. Their eggs can be in our faeces. Keeping animals out of our homes will help protect young children from diarrhoea and worms. Wear shoes to avoid catching worms from faeces on the ground.

Worms can be treated with a number of different drugs. If one person in the house has worms, every family member should be treated at the same time. Schools and communities could organise ‘worming days’ for every person. These are an effective way of reducing the problem of worms. However, the best way is for every family member to use a latrine and then wash their hands with soap.


  • What kind of birds or animals are common around our homes? In what situations do animals or birds share our homes?
  • Are people aware of the microbes and worms which birds and animals carry? Can we treat our domestic animals for worms?
  • How could people keep animals out of the living areas of their homes?
  • How can we encourage people to be very careful in washing their hands after handling animals? Who needs this information?
  • How will using a latrine reduce the risk of spreading worms?
  • How easy is it to obtain drugs to treat worms? Have people used these drugs for their families? Were they helpful? Who would have more information about this?
  • Do people know of traditional medicines that can be used to treat worms?

Using papaya or pawpaw (carica papaya) to treat worms 

Collect sap from a large unripe fruit still attached to the plant by making several vertical cuts in the fruit. Collect the drops of white sap in a clean cup. Use the fresh latex in the morning before eating, using the doses given below. It can be mixed with water. Repeat one week later. Always use a stainless steel knife and spoon and be careful to keep the sap out of the eyes.

  • For adults take 4 teaspoons of fresh latex
  • For children aged 7–13 years take 3 teaspoons
  • For children aged 4–6 years take 2 teaspoons
  • For children aged 1 to 3 years give 1 teaspoon
  • For babies of 6 months to 1 year give 12 teaspoon
  • For adult cows, buffalo or horses give 6 teaspoons of fresh latex
  • For adult goats or sheep give 3 teaspoons
  • For dogs or cats give 12 to 1 teaspoon depending on size