Animal Hospital of West Port St. Lucie

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HOOKWORMS!

Similar to tapeworms and roundworms, hookworms are intestinal parasites that live in the digestive system of your dog or cat.  These horrifying little bloodsucking parasites attach to the lining of the intestinal wall and feeds on your dog's blood.  Its eggs are ejected into the digestive tract and pass into the environment through your feces.  

Larvae (young worms) that hatch from hookworm eggs live in the soil.  How your pet (OR YOU) can get this unpleasant parasite:

ORAL INGESTION

DIRECT CONTACT WITH THE SKIN

IN UTERO

THROUGH MOM'S MILK

Pets can accidentally ingest by sniffing or eating contaminated soil or feces.  They can also ingest by grooming their paws, drinking contaminated water, and burrowing of the larvae into the skin occurs if they lie in infected soil.

LIFE CYCLE OF THE HOOKWORM

The only fool proof way to diagnose hookworms is a fecal exam at your veterinarian.  Your pet will then by prescribed dewormer to kill the parasites.  Symptoms you can look for in your pet to try to catch early:

ANEMIA

PALE GUMS

WEAKNESS

WEIGHT LOSS

BLOODY DIARRHEA

ITCHY PAWS

POOR GROWTH

DEATH

Keeping your pet on a regimen of heartworm preventative can aid in the reinfestation of hookworms as most of these include a small amount of dewormer monthly incorporated into the tablet or chew.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

CAN MY CHILD OR I GET HOOKWORM?? YES.  HUMANS CAN ABSOLUTELY PICK UP HOOKWORMS.  THE LARVAE CAN PENETRATE AND DAMAGE INTERNAL ORGANS AND EYES, CAUSING BLINDNESS AND COMPLICATIONS.  CHILDREN ESPECIALLY ARE VERY SUSCEPTIBLE TO INFESTATION.

 

WHO IS MOST AT RISK FOR THESE INFESTATIONS? THOSE IN AREAS WITH WARM AND MOIST CLIMATES, LIKE FLORIDA, AND WHERE SANITATION AND HYGIENE ARE POOR ARE AT THE MOST RISK.  WALKING BAREFOOT OR IN OTHER WAYS ALLOWING SKIN TO COME IN CONTACT WITH INFECTED SOIL ARE ALL IT TAKES.  CHILDREN ARE OF COURSE MOST AT RISK.

WHAT ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS IN HUMANS?  ITCHING AND A LOCALIZED RASH ARE OFTEN THE FIRST SIGNS OF INFECTION.  THESE SYMPTOMS OCCUR WHEN THE LARVAE PENETRATE THE SKIN.  PERSONS WITH LIGHT INFECTION MAY SHOW NO SYMPTOMS.  PERSONS WITH HEAVY INFECTION MAY EXPERIENCE ABDOMINAL PAIN, DIARRHEA, LOSS OF APPETITE, WEIGHT LOSS, FATIGUE AND ANEMIA.  THE PHYSICAL AND COGNITIVE GROWTH OF CHILDREN CAN BE AFFECTED.