Hookworm is a parasite that affects the lungs and intestines in humans and animals. The two most important species that affect humans are Necator americanus and Ancylostoma duodenale. Hookworms are transferred through infected feces; so, if a person infected with a parasite defecates in bushes, in a garden, or in a field, the eggs are deposited into the soil of that area. When another person walks barefoot in contaminated soil, the larvae can penetrate his skin. In certain regions, human feces is used as fertilizer. This increases the risk of contamination in those areas. Hookworm is most prevalent in developing nations in the tropics and subtropics with poor sanitation.
At the site of penetration to the skin, a person may develop an itchy rash due to an allergic reaction to the parasite. As the worm enters the skin, it excretes an enzyme that breaks apart skin cells, allowing it to pass through thick layers of skin. Most often hookworms enter the skin through the foot of a person walking barefoot in a contaminated area. You can prevent this by not walking barefoot outside—especially in areas where hookworm is common. Immediately upon entering the body, the larvae pass into the bloodstream and move toward the lungs. This process takes about ten days upon infection.
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