Hookworm infections, caused by the parasitic worms Necator americanus or Ancylostoma duodenale, often don’t cause noticeable symptoms in the early stages. However, as the infection progresses, symptoms may emerge. Common signs and symptoms of hookworm infection include:
- Itching and Rash: The larvae of hookworms can penetrate the skin, causing itching and a red rash at the site of entry. This condition is known as cutaneous larva migrans.
- Respiratory Symptoms: If the larvae are ingested, they can travel to the lungs, leading to symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, and in some cases, pneumonia.
- Abdominal Pain: Adult worms in the intestines can cause abdominal pain and discomfort.
- Diarrhea: Hookworm infection may lead to diarrhea and, in some cases, contribute to malabsorption of nutrients.
- Nausea and Vomiting: Some individuals with hookworm infection may experience nausea and vomiting.
- Anemia: Chronic hookworm infections can lead to anemia due to blood loss from the intestines.
- Fatigue: Anemia and nutrient deficiencies caused by hookworms can result in fatigue and weakness.
- Weight Loss: Prolonged hookworm infestations may contribute to weight loss.
It’s important to note that symptoms can vary depending on the severity of the infection and the individual’s immune response. In some cases, people may have minimal or no symptoms. Severe cases of hookworm infection, especially in individuals with weakened immune systems, can lead to more serious complications.
If you suspect a hookworm infection or experience persistent symptoms, especially after traveling to areas where hookworm is prevalent, seek medical attention. Diagnosis is typically confirmed through stool tests, and treatment involves antiparasitic medications prescribed by a healthcare professional. Preventive measures include practicing good hygiene, wearing shoes in areas where the larvae may be present, and avoiding contact with contaminated soil.