These are intestinal worms that come under the category of parasites, which means, they live and feed of living hosts. Hookworms live in the small intestines of the person affected. They get nourishment from him, disrupt his ability to absorb nutrients, thereby making him weak and anemic The person’s immune system goes down and various other diseases start invading his body.
How does the infection start?
There are two types of hook worms that infect humans:
- The one that infects, survives and reproduces in the human body. This enters human body through skin, usually feet, and starts migrating from there.
- The second one infects dogs and it can also cause skin infection in humans, but won’t survive 2. long in human body.
Damage caused by hookworm infection
Adult hookworms are of 1cm long. They stick to the mucus membrane of the intestines and suck blood, causing intestinal inflammation and blood loss. Presence of more than 50 adult hook worms can cause enough blood loss to cause anemia and malnutrition.
Iron deficiency anemia, known as hookworm disease, cause hemoglobin reduction. The amount of hemoglobin reduction depends on the number of hookworms present.
In children, chronic hookworm infection can slow down physical and intellectual development and cause poor school performance.
Hookworm anemia in pregnant women can cause several adverse outcomes for both the mother and newborn. Low birth weight, reduced milk production, and increased risk of death for both the mother and the child.
Infected children or adults are more likely to fall prey to other diseases because of lowered immune system.
Spreading of hookworms
Hook worm eggs can hatch and develop into larva only in humid atmosphere. Only larva can enter the skin and migrate inside the body.
The infected person passes hook worm eggs in stool. When he defecates outside, in a garden, field etc, the eggs get mixed in the soil. The eggs mature and hatch, releasing larvae. If any one walks on the soil barefooted or handles the soil, the larvae enter that person through his skin.
- Intestinal inflammation
- Iron and protein deficiency
- Local intense itching where larvae enter the body, followed by skin eruptions that look like insect bites.
External symptoms of hook worm infection
- Itching and rashes on feet and lower parts of the legs
- Cough and wheezing as larvae migrate through the lungs
- Discomfort in the abdomen
- Symptoms related to anemia
If you suspect hook worm infection, it is better to consult the doctor. Doctors normally prescribe medicines like Mebendazole, Albendazole etc.in a single dose or repeated doses.
However, the effect of medication is temporary. Children as well as adults usually get infected again within a short time after medication, which means, you need to repeat the medication frequently.
There is also a likelihood of developing drug resistance, which necessitates use of increased doses. Be aware of the fact that as with any other medicine, these also have side effects.
- If you are in a tropical region, don’t walk barefooted. Wear shoes for maximum protection.
- Avoid handling the soil with bare hands. If it is a must, use thick undamaged protective long gloves extending up to your arms.
- De-worm your dogs. Infection spreading from dogs causes skin rashes.
- Take care where your dog defecates. Clean the defecation spot thoroughly. Use of a good insecticide or pesticide is better.
- Efforts to control hookworm infection include the sanitary disposal of feces and educational campaigns about the proper use of latrines.
Only when the protecting power of the body or the immune system gets weak, disease start manifesting. The major cause for weak immune system is internal un-cleanliness. And the main reason for internal un-cleanliness is constipation. If you have constipation, get rid of it – very fast. You are unlikely to get intestinal worms.