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Classification and external resources
ICD-10 B76.0
ICD-9 126.9
eMedicine ped/96
MeSH D000724

Ancylostomiasis is the condition of infection by Ancylostoma hookworms.



They commonly infect the skin, eyes, and viscera in humans.


The infection is usually contracted by persons walking barefoot over contaminated soil. In penetrating the skin, the larvae may cause an allergic reaction. It is from the itchy patch at the site of entry that the early infection gets its nickname "ground itch". Once larvae have broken through the skin, they enter the bloodstream and are carried to the lungs. (Unlike ascarids, however, hookworms do not usually cause pneumonia.) The larvae migrate from the lungs up the windpipe to be swallowed and carried back down to the intestine. If humans come into contact with larvae of the dog hookworm or the cat hookworm, or of certain other hookworms that do not infect humans, the larvae may penetrate the skin.The larvae are unable to complete their migratory cycle in humans. Instead, the larvae migrate just below the skin producing snake-like markings. This is referred to as a creeping eruption or cutaneous larva migrans. [2]


In children (or adults) who walk barefoot, the hookworm can penetrate the sole of the foot and cause a lesion. The larva will then begin to mature while it moves towards the intestines. As in dogs, the hookworm will attach to the intestinal wall. Humans who have become infected will show symptoms of intestinal bleeding, abdominal pains, anemia, severe diarrhea and malnutrition. [3]


The drug of choice for the treatment of hookworm disease is mebendazole which is effective against both species, and in addition, will remove the intestinal worm Ascaris also, if present. The drug is very efficient, requiring only a single dose and is inexpensive, the perfect drug. However, treatment requires more than giving the anthelmintic, the patient should also receive dietary supplements to improve their general level of health, in particular iron supplementation is very important. Iron is an important constituent of a multitude of enzyme systems involved in energy metabolism, DNA synthesis and drug detoxification.

As mentioned earlier larval migrans or as it is also known, creeping eruption, is also a very uncomfortable symptom of this disease, and can also be caused by invasion of hookworms from other animals such as cats and dogs. Because they are in an abnormal host they do not mature to adults but instead migrate through the skin until killed by the host's inflammatory response. This causes local intense itching. Topical treatment with thiabendazole ointment is very effective in controlling this condition.

Control of this parasite should be directed against reducing the level of environmental contamination. Treatment of heavily infected individuals is one way to reduce the source of contamination (one study has estimated that 60% of the total worm burden resides in less than 10% of the population). Other obvious methods are to improve sanitary condition, e.g. latrines, but also convincing people to use them by maintaining them in a serviceable form making them conducive to use. Hookworms still account for high proportion of debilitating disease in the tropics and 50-60,000 deaths per year can be attributed to this disease. [4]

See also




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