Zoonotic hookworm and types of hookworm

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    The word Zoonotic pertains to animals. There are many different species of hookworms, some are human parasites and some are animal parasites. People can be infected by larvae of animal hookworms, usually dog and cat hookworms. The most common result of animal (zoonotic) hookworm infection is a skin condition called cutaneous larva migrants (CLM). People are infected when animal hookworm larvae penetrate the skin, causing a local reaction that is red and itchy. Raised, red tracks appear in the skin where the larvae have been and these tracks may move in the skin day to day, following the larvae’s movements. The symptoms of itching and pain can last several weeks before the larvae die and the reaction to the larvae resolves. The median time to symptom development in reported outbreaks of CLM ranged from 10 to 15 days. The most common symptom is intense pruritis, which usually develops first, followed by the appearance of an irregular raised track with erythema, presumably marking the progress of the larva from the site of penetration. The track may move in the skin over time, but it is important to note that the location of the track does not necessarily relate to the location of the larva which is randomly moving ahead of the track formation. Typically, the track moves several millimeters per day and is about 3 mm wide. Single tracks or multiple tracks may be present, depending on the severity of infection. In rare cases, certain types of animal hookworm may infect the intestine and cause abdominal pain, discomfort, and diarrhea. Puppies and kittens are especially likely to have hookworm infections. Animals that are infected pass hookworm eggs in their stools. The eggs can hatch into larvae, and both eggs and larvae may be found in dirt where animals have been. People may become infected while walking barefoot or when exposed skin comes in contact with contaminated soil or sand. The larvae in the contaminated soil or sand will burrow into the skin and cause the skin to become irritated in that area. For example, this can happen if a child is walking barefoot or playing in an area where dogs or cats have been (especially puppies or kittens). Wearing shoes and taking other protective measures to avoid skin contact with sand or soil will prevent infection with zoonotic hookworms. Travelers to tropical and subtropical climates, especially where beach exposures are likely, should be advised to wear shoes and use protective mats or other coverings to prevent direct skin contact with sand or soil. Routine veterinary care of dogs and cats, including regular deworming, will reduce environmental contamination with zoonotic hookworm eggs and larvae. Prompt disposal of animal feces prevents eggs from hatching and contaminating soil — which makes it important for control of this parasitic infection.

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