hookworm disease

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A condition resulting from an infestation of the small intestine by hookworms. Hookworm larvae live in the soil and infect humans by penetrating the skin. The worms travel to the lungs in the bloodstream and from there pass via the windpipe and gullet to the small intestine. Heavy hookworm infections may cause considerable damage to the wall of the intestine, leading to a serious loss of blood; this, in conjunction with malnutrition, can provoke severe anaemia. Symptoms include itching and rash at the site of infection, followed by abdominal pain, diarrhoea, debility, and mental inertia. More serious effects can include difficulty in breathing, heart enlargement, and irregular heartbeat. The disease occurs mostly in the tropics and subtropics; mebendazole is used in treatment.

Subjects: Medicine and Health.

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