Hookworm is a serious disease caused by small worms which attach themselves to the wall of the intestines. Within the bowel they caused serious bleeding, as well as poisoning the patient.
Hookworm infections are found chiefly in warm, moist areas of the tropics and also in some areas of the temperate zone as well, The disease is most frequently seen in rural areas where the soil is loose and sandy and where the majority of people do not have proper sanitary facilities. Female hookworms produce from 5,000 to 10,000 eggs per day. These are passed in the stools. If conditions are favorable, such as out in the fields in warm weather, the eggs soon hatch and the tiny worm may penetrate the feet of those working in the fields with bare feet.
The tiny larval worms quickly penetrate the skin, causing local itching and inflammation. They then enter the smaller blood vessels and are carried to the lungs where they make their way to one of the bronchial tubes and then dont into the small intestine and finally develop into adult worms, It takes about six weeks from the time the larva penetrates the skin for the eggs to appear in the stool.
Hookworms may live in the body several years. Minners who often lack proper toilet facilities may not only become infected through the feet but also through the arms and legs. As the worms pass through the lungs they caused severe bronchitis. They feed mainly on blood, attaching themselves to the wall of the blood and sucking the blood from the smaller vessels. They even produce a type of toxin which increase the bleeding produced by their bite.
Patients with hookworm disease appear pale often weak. They complain dizziness, ringing in the ears, headaches, and are easily fatigue. The hair is dry, and the facial expression dull apathetic. In more severe cases the heart is enlarged, and there may be swelling in all the tissue of the body. Shortness of breath is noticeable even on slight exertion. Nausea and vomiting are frequent, and growth is delayed in children. Mental development is also retarded. Men may become impotent and women cease to menstraute. Diagnosis is made by finding the hookworm eggs in the stools. With the right equipment this is not difficult.
Tetrachlorethylene is the drug of choice in the treatment of hookworm. It is safe, effective, and cheap. Six capsule, .5cc., is the average dose for adults and older children. Young children should be given two, three, or four capsules, according to age. If the patient also has a roundworm infection, this should be treated first with piperazine, as suggested above, and then two weeks later the hookworm can be treated. Most hookworm patients are found to be suffering from anemia. They should therefore be given ferous sulfate tablets, two or three times daily after meals. Young children should received doses in proportion to their weight. The diet should be well balanced and provided plenty of protien.
Prevention of hookworm is best done by providing sanitary facilities and insisting that everyone use them. In rural areas will prevent infection. Farmers should insist that human wastes and excreta not be used on the fields. Shoes should be worm by all workers to prevent re-infection from previously contaminated soil.