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Condition

Hookworm Infection

Symptoms, Doctors, Treatments, Research & More

Condition 101

What is the definition of Hookworm Infection?

Hookworm infection is caused by roundworms. The disease affects the small intestine and lungs.

What are the alternative names for Hookworm Infection?

Hookworm disease; Ground itch; Ancylostoma duodenale infection; Necator americanus infection; Parasitic infection - hookworm

What are the causes for Hookworm Infection?

The infection is caused by infestation with any of the following roundworms:

  • Necator americanus
  • Ancylostoma duodenale
  • Ancylostoma ceylanicum
  • Ancylostoma braziliense

The first two roundworms affect humans only. The last two types also occur in animals.

Hookworm disease is common in the moist tropics and subtropics. In developing nations, the disease leads to the death of many children by increasing their risk for infections that their bodies would normally fight off.

There is very little risk of getting the disease in the United States because of advances in sanitation and waste control. The important factor in getting the disease is walking barefoot on ground where there are feces of people who are infected with hookworm.

The larvae (immature form of the worm) enter the skin. The larvae move to the lungs via the bloodstream and enter the airways. The worms are about one half inch (1 centimeter) long.

After traveling up the windpipe, the larvae are swallowed. After the larvae are swallowed, they infect the small intestine. They develop into adult worms and live there for 1 or more years. The worms attach to the intestinal wall and suck blood, which can result in iron deficiency anemia and protein loss. Adult worms and larvae are released in the feces.

What are the symptoms for Hookworm Infection?

Symptoms may include:

  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Cough
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Gas
  • Itchy rash
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Pale skin

Most people have no symptoms once the worms enter the intestines.

What are the current treatments for Hookworm Infection?

The goals of treatment are to:

  • Cure the infection
  • Treat complications of anemia
  • Improve nutrition

Parasite-killing drugs such as albendazole, mebendazole, or pyrantel pamoate are often prescribed.

Symptoms and complications of anemia are treated, if needed. The health care provider will likely recommend increasing the amount of protein in your diet.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Hookworm Infection?

You will have a complete recovery if you get treated before serious complications develop. Treatment gets rid of the infection.

What are the possible complications for Hookworm Infection?

Health problems that may result from hookworm infection include:

  • Iron deficiency anemia, caused by loss of blood
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Severe protein loss with fluid buildup in the abdomen (ascites)

When should I contact a medical professional for Hookworm Infection?

Call for an appointment with your provider if symptoms of hookworm infection develop.

How do I prevent Hookworm Infection?

Handwashing and wearing shoes will reduce the likelihood of infection.

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Digestive

REFERENCES

Diemert DJ. Nematode infections. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 335.

Hotez PJ. Hookworms (Necator americanus and Ancylostoma spp.). In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 318.

Latest Research

Latest Advance
Study
  • Condition: Hookworm Infections
  • Journal: BMC infectious diseases
  • Treatment Used: Single Dose Versus Multiple Dose of Mebendazole
  • Number of Patients: 108
  • Published —
In this study, researchers compared the effectiveness of single dose versus multiple dose of mebendazole for the treatment of hookworm infections in children.
Latest Advance
Study
  • Condition: Anemia in Non-Pregnant Adolescent Girls and Adult Women
  • Journal: Systematic reviews
  • Treatment Used: Deworming
  • Number of Patients: 1086
  • Published —
This review of the literature evaluated outcomes of parasite load, reinfection, anemia, severe anemia, iron deficiency, diarrhea, or all-cause morbidity in the deworming of non-pregnant adolescent girls and adult women.