Ankylostomiasis

Nature of the disease

Ankylostomiasis is a hookworm disease caused by infection with ancylostoma hookworms. Ankylostomiasis is also known as miner’s anaemia, tunnel disease, brickmaker’s anaemia and Egyptian chlorosis. Helminthiasis may also refer to ancylostomiasis, but this term also refers to all other parasitic worm diseases as well.

Causative agent of ankylostomiasis

Ankylostomiasis is caused when hookworms, present in large numbers which produce iron deficiency anaemia by sucking blood from the host’s intestinal walls.

Clinical features of ankylostomiasis

Clinical features of ankylostomiasis include intestinal bleeding, abdominal pain and anaemia.

Signs and symptoms of ankylostomiasis

Ankylostomiasis often do not present any symptom at the early stage. However, rash, itching and larva migrations may develop at the site of larval penetration, usually on the feet. Migration of large numbers of larvae through the lungs occasionally causes Löffler syndrome, with cough, and wheezing. During the acute phase, adult worms in the intestine may cause stomach pain, flatulence, diarrhea, and weight loss.

Chronic infection can lead to iron deficiency anaemia, causing weakness, edema, severe anaemia, heart failure, and in pregnant women, to growth retardation in the foetus.

Diagnosis of ankylostomiasis

Ankylostomiasis is diagnosed through microscopic examination of stool for oval eggs in fresh stool. If the stool is not kept cold and examined within several hours, the eggs may hatch and release larvae.

Incubation period for ankylostomiasis

Ankylostomiasis has an incubation period of 1 to 3 weeks.

Treatment for ankylostomiasis

Ankylostomiasis is treated with albendazole or mebendazole. Albendazole 400 mg as a single dose or mebendazole 100 mg for 3 days or 500 mg as a single dose is given. General support and correction of iron deficiency anemia are needed if infection is heavy.

Prevention of ankylostomiasis

Ankylostomiasis is prevented by preventing unhygienic defecation and avoiding direct skin contact with the soil (e.g., wearing shoes, using barriers when seated on the ground) are effective in preventing infection but difficult to implement in many endemic areas.

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