Hookworm disease (also called uncinariasis), a helminthic infection of the upper intestine, is chronic and debilitating. The disease's major sign is anemia. Sandy soil, high humidity, a warm climate, and failure to wear shoes all favor its transmission.
Hookworm disease is present in one-fourth of the worth's population. Although it can cause cardiopulmonary complications, it's seldom fatal, except in debilitated people and in infants.
The serious results of hookworm infection are the development of anemia and protein deficiency caused by blood loss. When children are continuously infected by many worms, the loss of iron and protein can retard growth and mental development, sometimes irreversibly. Hookworm infection can also cause tiredness, difficulty breathing, enlargement of the heart, and irregular heartbeat. Sometimes hookworm infection is fatal, especially among infants.
Symptoms and Signs
Itching and a rash at the site of where skin touched soil or sand is usually the first sign of infection. These symptoms occur when the larvae penetrate the skin. While a light infection may cause no symptoms.
Heavy, chronic infections can cause stunted growth and mental development.
Identification of hookworm ova in a stool smear confirms the diagnosis. Anemia suggests severe chronic infection. In an infected patient, blood studies show:
Mebendazole or pyrantel pamoate is prescribed for hookworm infection. The patient also needs an iron-rich diet or iron supplements to prevent or correct anemia.
Don't walk barefoot or contact the soil with bare hands in areas where hookworm is common or there is likely to be feces in the soil or sand.
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