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The duodenal hookworm (Ancylostoma duodenale) is a human parasite from the nematode family. The hookworm can settle in our body when we eat fruit that is not thoroughly washed, and even when we walk barefoot on the ground. Fortunately, in our latitude, infection with a duodenal hookworm is rare, but when going on a trip to warm countries, remember about basic precautions. How is a duodenal hookworm infection manifested and how to get rid of it?

Duodenal hookwormis a small worm from the nematode family (roundworms), the same to which also belong pinworms, whipworm and human roundworm. A small - and maybe a large - adult specimen reaches almost two centimeters, so you can see it with the naked eye, and that's something.

The adult hookworm lives an average of 2 years, but keep in mind that some specimens can live in the duodenum for up to 15 years!

For comparison, the lamblia is microscopic and can only be detected in the stool after examination under a microscope, which makes the diagnosis much more difficult …Duodenal hookwormhas an elongated, thread-like shape and is pale pink.

How is a duodenal hookworm infected?

To become a host for this parasite, one must either swallow it or step on it - especially with an injured foot. In Poland, a duodenal hookworm infection is rare, but people traveling to southern Asia and the Mediterranean should be careful.

Be careful, i.e. always wear shoes, carefully stick any scratches and other injuries with a plaster, and above all wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly - do not eat fruit raised from the ground! - and hands before each meal.

Furthermore, the larvae can be transferred through the placenta to the fetus or through the mother's milk.

The disease is also called ankylostomosis or a disease or anemia of miners, because the mines have high temperatures and high humidity, and these are the conditions in which hookworms reproduce well.

The female hookworm lays around 10,000-25,000. eggs. Together with the feces, the eggs of the hookworms enter the external environment. They develop (first instar) larvae, and only after moulting twice do they develop into invasive (third instar) larvae. In this form and under favorable conditionsenvironmental conditions (the most important thing is adequate humidity) they can survive for about one month.

Man is infected by invasive larvae that enter the body through intact skin.

If these larvae reach the human skin, they will penetrate the blood vessels, then the heart, lungs and trachea, which, by expectoration and swallowing sputum, enter the digestive tract.

Their journey lasts about 7 days and ends in the duodenum. Here they mature, become adults and begin to reproduce. Six weeks after the larva has entered the body, the eggs of the parasite can be found in the stool . Hookworms stick to the intestinal mucosa with their mouths and feed on blood and epithelium, they can survive for several years.

Symptoms of duodenal hookworm infection

Since the parasites suck blood from the vessels in the digestive system, one symptom of infection is anemia (anemia). But for hookworm disease can also be indicated by:

  • gastrointestinal bleeding
  • hemoptysis
  • stomach pains
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea

If a patient develops these symptoms, it is much easier for a doctor to make a diagnosis, especially if he learns that the patient has recently made an exotic journey. Symptoms of hookworm infection, however, may be non-specific:

  • skin rash
  • itching, especially around the place where the larva was drilling
  • swelling of limbs and face
  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • chest pain
  • weakness
Worth knowing

If one person in the family is infected with the parasite, the probability of infection of the rest of the household is very high. If one person is infected with duodenal hookworm (as well as with many other parasitic diseases), it is advisable to treat the whole family and clean thoroughly!

Diagnosis and treatment of duodenal hookworm

As the symptoms of this parasitic disease are very ambiguous in many cases, an interview is very important. Faecal examination can confirm infection with a duodenal hookworm, although it is rarely found at the right time in the worm development cycle. Also, if the level of eosinophils is elevated in the blood test, it may be a parasitic disease.

When a hookworm disease is diagnosed (in fact, it is enough to say that it is a parasitic disease at all and we are already "at home", because the treatment of parasitic diseases is similar), treatment must be started immediately. It ison the administration of antiparasitic drugs, the most common are albendazole (popular Zentel) and mebendazole (eg Vermox). Medicines are very effective, moreover, they practically do not burden the human body.

Duodenal hookworm: prognosis

Rarely, but it happens that in severe cases, hookworm infection can lead to death.

Duodenal hookworm infection of a pregnant woman may result in abnormal fetal development, premature delivery and low birth weight.

If a child becomes ill and the disease is not properly diagnosed and treated for a long time (e.g. allergy is treated, because the symptoms, especially skin and respiratory, resemble an allergy), weight loss, anemia and growth disorders may occur .

After treatment with an antiparasitic drug, if there is no relapse within 3-4 years, the disease may be considered cured.Contamination of the environment, especially the waters, with faeces and larvae spreads the disease.

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