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Hookworm Infection and Animals

hookworm egg   barbs in the mouth of a hookworm
Hookworm egg -
this is what a veterinarian sees in the stool of an
infected dog or cat.
Hookworm mouth - notice the hooks!

What is hookworm infection?

Hookworm infection is a disease caused by several species of parasites. The symptoms of animal hookworm infection in people depend on how people get the infection. Early stages of animal hookworms, the larvae, can infect people and travel through different parts of the human body. This is called larva migrans (LAR-va MIGH-granz). People can also get painful and itchy skin infections when animal hookworm larvae move through their skin. If a person accidentally eats animal hookworm eggs, then the larvae that hatch out of the eggs can reach the intestine and cause bleeding, inflammation (swelling), and abdominal pain.

Can animals transmit hookworm infection to me?

Yes, but not directly. 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. Eggs or larvae can get into your body when you accidentally eat or have direct contact with contaminated dirt. 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).

How do I reduce my risk of getting hookworm?

  • Do not walk barefoot or contact the soil with bare hands in areas where hookworm is common or there is likely to be feces (stool) in the soil or sand.
  • Dogs and cats should be dewormed by your veterinarian.


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