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Hookworms

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Hookworms are parasites that thrive in the small intestine. It mostly affects mammals such as dogs, cats, and humans. The hookworm varieties that infect humans are Necator americanus and Ancylostoma duodenale. The former is mostly found in Americans, Sub-Saharan Africans, and Southeast Asians while the latter is mostly found in Europeans, Middle Easterners, North Africans, and Indians.

Statistics showed that about one fifth of the worldwide population have been infected with hookworm. It mostly occurs under sub-tropical and tropical climates.

Hookworms can be obtained by direct contact to a contaminated soil. Walking barefooted or swallowing contaminated soil will naturally make the parasite invade your body. The life cycle of a hookworm starts and ends in the small intestine.

HOOKWORMS SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

A warm and moist environment is all that a hookworm needs for its eggs to hatch into larvae. Larvae easily pass through the skin and go through the respiratory tract to reach the small intestine. The larvae develop to become half-inch hookworms shortly after about a week of journey. Once the hookworms developed, they will stick to the intestinal wall and suck blood from there. Every day, matured hookworms may produce thousands of eggs, which are excreted in the stool. Once they reach an appropriate environment, they can become larvae again between five and ten days.

Hookworms can create serious problems in newborns and very young children, pregnant women, and under nourished individuals. Children have the most risk factors since they mostly play in the soil unmindful of the dangers. Hookworm infection only occurs after the larvae development in the soil so person-to-person transmission is out of the equation. A direct physical contact with a person infected with hookworm cannot make him susceptible to contract the disease himself.

The common manifestations of a hookworm infection include itching and irritation. Protein deficiency and anemia are just about common because hookworms suck blood and other particles in the intestine. In case of children, hookworm infection may cause stunted physical growth and disturbed mental development. Patients with hookworm may also complain fatigue, breathing difficulty, heart enlargement, and irregular heartbeat. Hookworm can cause death, especially among infants and young children.

HOOKWORMS DIAGNOSIS

Hookworm infection is diagnosed through stool examination. Thousands of hookworm eggs are excreted in the stool so it is the surest way to establish a hookworm infection.
hookworm
Image: Hookworm

HOOKWORMS TREATMENT

As soon as found out, hookworm infection will be advised with medical treatments that are aimed at killing the worms. Medication therapy that is mostly administered for three days is the most popular form of treatment for hookworms. Infected children will be examined thoroughly before they are given medication to ensure that the positive effects of the drugs are greater than the risks. Patients of hookworm infection are also given iron supplements, especially with the occurrence of anemia.

Mebendazole is the most common drug used to tackle hookworm. Its course of action is blocking the uptake of nutrients so the hookworm will stop thriving.

Shortly after treatment, about one to two weeks, hookworm patients are often asked to come back for another examination. This is to ensure that the infection is no longer present. If hookworm eggs still appear in the stool, the same form of treatment will be repeated.

Hookworm infection in generally healthy individuals is less likely to create any discomfort. If re-infection is expected, mild cases are often left untreated. It is rarely causes death but it sure does in under nourished, young victims whose body’s resistance is still being developed.

Mild hookworm infections have also been found beneficial to the host body. Symptoms of diseases related to overactive immune system improve with the presence of hookworm. This occurrence is explained by hygiene hypothesis, which states that lack of early exposure to infection increase a person’s susceptibility to allergy.

HOOKWORMS PREVENTION

To prevent yourself or anyone in your family from being infected with hookworm, you must keep yourself clean. Good personal hygiene is your only protection against hookworm infection.

Do not let your children or any member of the family walk in the soil barefooted. If you suspect infection, have each of your family members screened. Sometimes, hookworm infection can be asymptomatic and occur without any noticeable symptoms.

Remember that hookworms survive in damp, sandy, and loamy soil environment. Do not encourage their growth by creating a place for them to develop. Never defecate in sites other than toilets. Proper sanitation is significant in keeping your surrounding hookworm-free. The use of manure in agriculture is also a common risk factor. Mere skin contact with a contaminated soil can make hookworms penetrate your body system.

Take good care of the hygiene of your pet dogs and cats, if you have any. Hookworms that develop in your canine and feline friends may cause an itchy skin rash. Be aware that topical medications to kill hookworms in dogs and cats are now widely available. You can use them to kill the parasites and stop its spread, keeping your household free of infection in the process. Moxidectin does not only cure hookworms, it can also control other parasites such as roundworms, whipworms, and heartworms.


Although hookworm infection can rarely provide adverse affects, you must also keep a close watch on its occurrence, especially on children. Make sure that you and your family are properly nourished. This way, you will not be worried about severe health threats that hookworm poses. If your moderate case is not found appropriate for treatment, ask your doctor to have you checked for anemia. Take iron supplements if need be.

Any health condition, from the simplest to the most complicated must be tackled mindfully. Never ignore an irregularity. The common symptoms may be brought about by anything. Still, it is safest if you know where you are leading. Consult your doctor for any abnormality or irregularity that you find disturbing. Be wary about your child’s health condition. Children are most susceptible to many types of diseases. Taking good care of them by minding the factors that you can control and bringing to the doctor’s attention the factors that you can’t will surely help great loads.
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