Zoonotic hookworms are hookworms living inside animals but can be transmitted to humans.

The eggs of these parasites are broken down into the infected animal’s faeces, which will end up in the environment, contaminating the ground where the animal excreted. People will become infected when the zoonotic hookworm larvae eat through their unprotected skin, especially when they walk barefoot or sit on dirty soil or sand. This can result in a disease called cutaneous larva migrans, when the larvae move through the skin and cause inflammation.

Dog and cat hookworms are found worldwide, especially in warmer climates. Zoonotic hookworms are found worldwide but mostly along the East Coast than on the West Coast. Zoonotic hookworms are mostly found in tropical and subtropical regions where the parasite can survive because of environmental conditions. 

Hookworm disease

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Zoonotic hookworm infections will result in a skin condition called cutaneous larva migrans. When people walk barefoot or sit on beach sand or soil where infected dogs or cats have excreted, hookworm larvae can eat through the skin of the foot or body and move to the top layers of the skin. This causes severe itchiness, and raised red lines can form as part of the reaction to the larvae in the skin. The larvae will eventually die in the skin after several weeks without developing any further, and the itchiness and red lines will go away too. 

Scratching the lines can be tempting because it itches really bad, but it can cause a bacterial infection. Your doctor will decide to treat you to control the symptoms and prevent a bacterial infection. Sometimes certain types of animal hookworm may infect the intestines and cause extreme abdominal pain, discomfort, and ultimately diarrhoea.

What should I Do if I have Hookworm Infection Signs?

Go to your doctor immediately and discuss the possibility of infection and ask to be examined. There are no blood tests for animal hookworm infection.

Getting a diagnosis

The doctor can diagnose hookworm by taking a stool sample and using a microscope to look for hookworm eggs.

What is the treatment for hookworm infections in animals?

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The larva may cause cutaneous larva migraines usually do not survive more than five to six weeks in a human body. Most patients with the symptom recover without medical treatment. However, treatment should be able to help control symptoms and help prevent bacterial infections. There are a few medications you can take, but those medications only kill adult hookworms. You can ask your doctor for some ointments for the skin infection to help with the itchiness.

Can I get hookworm from my pet?

Yes, you can, but not directly. Puppies and kittens will be more likely to have hookworm infections. This is because animals that have the bacteria in them pass the hookworm eggs in their stools. And then, the eggs can hatch into larvae.

People become infected while walking barefoot or when their skin comes in contact with soil or sand that has been contaminated. Larvae in soil or sand will eat their way into the skin and cause the skin to become infected and irritated in that area. 

How can I prevent animal hookworm infection?

If you go to the beach, always take a towel or chair to sit on to avoid any form of direct skin contact with sand or soil. When you want to walk around by the beach or even outside, always wear shoes, whether sandals or sneakers. This will help you from getting a zootonic hookworm infection.

Always have a routine of how you care for your dogs and cats, get them dewormed when they are supposed to. This will reduce the risk of them getting zoonotic hookworms and reduce environmental contamination with zoonotic hookworm eggs and larvae. Always dispose of your animals’ faeces when you take them on walks or to the dog park. This prevents eggs from hatching and contaminating the soil where other dogs and cats walk, so it doesn’t spread to their next victim. Having a routine is very important. It keeps everything under control, and you don’t have to worry about getting a hookworm if you stick to your routine.

Causal Agents

Some zoonotic hookworm species may be capable of infecting humans, but they typically don’t develop in the intestines. Instead, they just infect extraintestinal sites like the skin. 

Life Cycle

Hookworm larvae hatch in one or two days. The released larvae grow in the animal’s stool and soil. After five or ten days, they become larvae that are infective 

These infective larvae can survive three to four weeks in their favourite environmental conditions. The larvae eat through the skin and get carried through the blood vessels to the heart and then to the lungs. The larvae will then reach the small intestine, where they stay and grow into adults. Adult worms live in the small intestine, latching onto the intestinal wall. 

Humans become infected when larvae enter the skin. With most species, the larvae cannot grow further in the human host and move aimlessly within the epidermis, As much as several centimetres a day. Some larvae may become arrested in deeper tissue after skin migration.

Everything you need to know about hookworm infection

If you know of anyone who has a hookworm infection or their animal has hookworm, let them contact their vet and doctor immediately, let them follow each step on how to prevent a hookworm and let them and yourself spread the word so more people can know what to do when they get a hookworm.