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Hookworm disease

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noun, plural: hookworm diseases

A form of helminthiasis that is caused by parasitic hookworms


Hookworms are nematodes that live as parasites inside their hosts. They are particularly found on the walls of the intestines of animals where they feed on blood. Some hosts may not show any symptoms but and serve as carriers. Others manifest symptoms and the most common health risk is iron deficiency anemia since hookworms feed on blood of the host.

Two of the most common hookworms that parasitize humans are Ancylostoma duodenale and Necator americanus. Ancylostoma duodenale infestation is particularly called ancylostomiasis whereas Necator americanus infestation is termed necatoriasis. Both ancylostomiasis and necatoriasis cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, and weight loss.

Other examples of hookworms causing disease to other animals are Ancylostoma braziliense (cat and dog hookworm) and Ancylostoma caninum (dog hookworm). Ancylostoma braziliense is capable of causing cutaneous larva migrans in humans. Humans are their incidental hosts. The larvae of Ancylostoma braziliense penetrate the exposed skin of human host such as when the latter walks barefoot on contaminated beach and sandy areas. Since the larvae can penetrate only the upper dermis of the skin they form tunnels underneath the skin of the human host.

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