What is Hookworm Infection?
Hookworm infection is a disease caused by a parasitic hookworm within the small intestine. There are two types of hookworms that often attack humans, namely Ancylostoma duodenale and Necator americanus.
Hookworm infection cases are commonly found in densely populated developing countries and have poor sanitation systems. Some of these countries are mostly located in areas in Africa and Southeast Asia, including Indonesia.
Symptoms of Hookworm Infection
Hookworm infection is characterized by the following symptoms:
- Allergies in the form of itching and rash.
- Abdominal pain, nausea, and intestinal cramps.
- fever and loss of appetite.
- Diarrhea and blood mixed with feces.
- Coughing and breathing are disrupted.
- Weight loss.
Complications of Hookworm Infection
If not addressed quickly and precisely, hookworm infections can trigger other health problems, such as:
- Premature birth.
- Babies are underweight.
- Child growth is inhibited.
Causes of Hookworm Infection
Hookworm eggs live on fecal contaminated soil. Within 1-2 days, the egg will hatch and release the larvae. The larvae will grow into filariform within 5-10 days, and can stick to the human skin.
A person may become infected with a hookworm if their skin is in direct contact with the ground that the larval hole larvae live on. For example when someone walks barefoot or when children play the ground.
Hookworm larvae can also enter the stomach if a person eats raw foods or vegetables contaminated with hookworm eggs. Especially if the food and vegetables were not washed before consumption.
After entering the body, the hookworm larvae will carry the flow of blood into the throat, heart, lungs, and grow and develop in the small intestine. They stick to the intestinal wall and begin to interfere with human health.
Hookworms will spawn and multiply in the small intestine before leaving the human body through the feces. The eggs will again hatch in the contaminated soil and the life cycle of the hookworm continues to spin.
Treatment of Hookworm Infection
To diagnose hookworm infection, the doctor will take a sample of the patient’s stool and examine it in the laboratory. From the examination, the doctor will look for the possibility of hookworm eggs. The severity of the infection can be seen from how much the number of eggs.
Hookworm infections can generally be treated with anticelack medications (eg, albendazole and mebendazole). Doctors will usually prescribe these drugs for 1-3 days. Both of these drugs work by preventing the absorption of glucose by the worm, so that the worms run out of energy and eventually die.
Albendazole and mebendazole can cause side effects such as nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, headache, or hair loss temporarily. However, if side effects occur prolonged or to interfere with daily activities, patients are advised to see a doctor again in order to get the right handling solution.
In patients with red blood cell deficiency or anemia, the doctor will provide iron supplements. In addition, folic acid can also be used to help the formation of red blood cells.
Prevention of Hookworm Infection
Hookworm infection can be prevented by not touching the ground directly, and using footwear when visiting a hookworm endemic area. In addition, cleansing of food and vegetables to be consumed can also help avoid this parasitic infection.
Washing hands before eating and consuming clean, well-prepared drinking water is also needed to prevent the spread of hookworms.