Hookworm Pathology |
MY DOG IS BEING TREATED FOR HOOKWORMS. WHERE DID
THEY COME FROM? ARE MY OTHER ANIMALS AT RISK?
Hookworms are tiny parasites that live in a dog's intestine. The are called hookworms because they have tiny hooks around their mouths that let them attach to the lining of the dog's intestine and suck blood. Puppies can get infected from their mothers, but older animals can become infected from the environment. Hookworm eggs are shed in the dogs feces and can contaminate soil, sand and grass. The eggs hatch into microscopic larvae that a dog may accidently eat, but that also have the ability to burrow through the skin and then migrate to the intestine.
Other dogs can become infected from your dog or from the same place that your dog became infected. But fortunately, treatment is very effective and so your dog will no longer be a source of infection for others.
Humans can also become infected with dog or cat hookworms, but in this case, the microscopic larvae only cause a skin rash and irritation that goes away by itself, because we are not the natural host. But this is the reason that mothers used to tell children not to go barefoot! Fortunately, current treatments are very good, so we don't have to worry as much about this problem. But people should always wash after being out in the dirt and, most mportantly, do just as you have done and treat infected dogs!
Laura Hungerford, DVM, MPH, PhD
University of Maryland
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Update: June 2012