Hookworm Transmission often referred to as the Great Infective of Mankind, can create serious health problems for newborns, children of all ages, women that are pregnant and anyone that is malnourished.
There is an estimated 1.3 billion people world wide that currently has this infection.
Light infections from this parasite may cause no symptoms at all, while heavy infected cases can cause anemia, severe abdominal pain, loss of your appetite, and as a result, rapid weight loss. Very heavily infection can cause impaired behavioral and motor development, and in severe cases, can result in death, especially in infants.Hookworm transmission is the worlds leading cause of anemia, which is a condition in which the bodies circulating red cell mass, is not sufficient to perform the necessary functions and normally results in abnormal haemoglobin content.
Hookworm transmission can cause an inadequate amount of oxygen to be carried to your body. The result of anemia can vary from simple fatigue to death, depending on the severity. Anemic conditions resulting from this parasite infection is found to be far more common in women than in men simply because women are more at risk of anemia. Human hookworm transmission is a soil-transmitted infection caused by two nematode parasites, Necator Americanus and Ancylostoma Duodenale, according to the Center of Disease and Control (CDC), with the Necator version being by far the largest threat to humans.
This infection is primarily found in impoverished and subtropical regions, but has also become more widespread in the southern United States. In can also affect animals, and is estimated to currently affect 20% of the entire dog population.
Dogs are the major host or carrier of the parasite worldwide.
Hookworms are a small, roundish bloodsucking worm that will penetrate the skin, and as a result will cause a red and extremely itching rash on the feet. While this infection is most commonly spread by unsanitary conditions in undeveloped and emerging countries, in the United States it is almost always spread by contact with soil that has been infected by an affected dog’s feces.
Hookworm eggs themselves are not infective in humans; the infection will come when they release larvae in soil that has the ability to penetrate the skin. Walking barefoot in your lawn or other such places where an infected dog may have deposited feces, and then coming in contact with those larvae that can lay dormant for extended periods of time, will cause this infection that has become known as ground itch.
Much like roundworm transmission, this parasite transmission will lay and wait in sand boxes, playgrounds, or your backyard where children might come into contact simply by exposure to their skin, or accidentally ingesting the parasite by touching their mouths, and thus allowing it to enter into their system.
Dogs, the major host of the parasite, become infected with hookworms by four basic venues; they will orally inject the parasite, it will be absorbed through their skin, they will get it from their mother’s placenta before birth, or they can be infected by their mother’s milk if she is infected.
Dogs will be affected by this parasite the same basic ways that humans are affected, by either intestinal distress and or anemia. Hookworms on the average are about one-third inch in length, and when they mate, the female will lay eggs in the host. Depending on the species of the parasite, the females can lay as many as 10,000 to 25,000 eggs in one day. These eggs are than passed in the feces of the host.
Juvenile hookworms, called larvae, can reach the infectious stage in as few as five days. Hookworms have mouth parts that resemble cutting mechanisms and attach to the hosts intestine using this blood sucking tools that than penetrate blood vessels.This parasite can grow to full maturity in humans, but in dogs they do not and will die after a few months, but they can remain active in their skin for extended periods.
Hookworms can not be spread from one human to another, as the infection relies on contact with infected larvae in soil. Children can not replace lost blood as quickly as adults, and for this reason it makes them a lot more vulnerable to these parasites bloodsucking attacks and the symptoms that will come with the loss of blood.
Symptoms that will first develop in humans will be abdominal pain, diarrhea, and a very itching rash, again referred to as ground itch. If hookworm transmission is severe enough, a cough will develop, and the affects of anemia will develop.
Infections in the dog population will be very similar to that in humans.
Treatment, especially in the United States, is most always with mebendazole, which has shown to be extremely effective and results can be seen as soon as one to three days. It has shown to have very few side affects. The mineral iron is a very important preventive measure with hookworm transmission in both humans and dogs in building up the immune system against this parasite as dogs especially are at risk of being infected by hookworms if their body is low in iron.
Iron deficiency is a very large problem in young children due to their high iron requirements, and as a result, supplements are often recommended. However, you should not give any iron supplements to a child without first consulting your physician. Iron is also essential in the creation of hemoglobin, red blood cells, and immunity functions that will only benefit both humans and dogs against this parasite.
While Hookworm transmission is a huge threat, with the proper knowledge and prevention, you can protect both yourself and your canine friend.