Human enterobiasis in evolution: Origin, specificity and transmission

J. P. Hugot, K. J. Reinhard, S. L. Gardner, S. Morand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


The co-evolutionary pathway seems to be the most plausible hypothesis for the explanation of the origin of human pinworms. Of the two modes of transmission of oxyurids among humans which have been documented, the direct oral/anal route is also observed in other Primates and seems to have been favoured by selection. As indirect air-borne transmission has also been shown for human enterobiasis, the question of "How this alternative to the standard transmission method could have arisen" is examined. The results of comparative studies of prevalence of Enterobius in human coprolites, in villages of Neolithic age of the arid west of North America, show that a higher prevalence of pinworms is correlated with the lower total amount of air-exchange in caves relative to other structures. The air-borne route of transmission of pinworms among humans is interpreted as an innovation in the human/Enterobius pair. This mode of transfer could have been favoured during the time when humans changed their behaviour from a hunting-gathering to a more sedentary existence, initially associated with cave habitats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-208
Number of pages8
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Air as a vector
  • Air-borne-contagion
  • Archaeological material
  • Archeoparasitology
  • Coevolution
  • Coprolites
  • Dust
  • E. gregorii
  • Enterobiasis
  • Enterobius vermicularis
  • Habitation
  • Helminths
  • Oxyurid
  • Parasites
  • Pinworm
  • Prevalence
  • Primates

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • veterinary (miscalleneous)
  • Insect Science
  • Infectious Diseases


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