purple and pink picture of microscopic view of hookworm

Photo from Flickr

Hookworm infections result from the ingestion or skin penetration of the hookworm larvae (Ancylostoma duodenale or Necator americanus), which are found in soil. According to the CDC, the larvae develop in soil through the deposit of feces containing eggs from infected persons. The ingested larva is carried in the bloodstream from the lungs to the small intestine where they attach to the intestinal wall. As they mature they digest quantities of blood and cause further losses. Hookworm is a particular issue in countries where appropriate footwear is not common. This exposes the feet to fecal matter as well as the parasite.
The infection can cause severe pain which leads to mobility problems.  Unilever sites an example of a study of over 1800 children in Brazil. The study found that sewerage and drainage infrastructure could significantly reduce transmission and re-infection. This suggests that long-term strategies incorporating education on personal hygiene, provision of improved sanitation and access to safe water are fundamental strategies to tackle the disease.


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