What is it?
These are intestinal worms of dogs and cats. They are very thin, almost transparent, and ¼ to ½ inch long. The worms are normally not visible to the naked eye.
Who is susceptible to it?
Dogs, cats, humans, and wild animals.
How does it spread?
Hookworms can be spread by consuming worm eggs from soil, nursing from an infected mother, while in utero and by consuming a prey animal (usually rodent) that is carrying developing worms. These eggs can also penetrate through the skin.
Time line from exposure to signs?
What are the symptoms?
This parasite hooks itself to the intestines and sucks the pet’s blood and nutrients. Symptoms include pale gums, weakness, and sometimes black, tarry stools. There may be vomiting and diarrhea. Growth in young animals is stunted, and the hair coat may appear dull and dry.
Is there a test for it?
Diagnosis is made from a microscopic examination of the feces or from a description of the worm if it is seen in the stool.
How is it treated?
Treatment is an oral or topical medication (De-wormer), and the prevention of re-infection. Many heartworm preventives such as Heartgard Plus and Interceptor treat or control infections with hookworms and are an important addition to a prevention program.
Cleaning the environment?
Hookworms can live several weeks in cool, moist soil, but die rapidly in freezing or hot, dry conditions. All fecal material should be removed, since organic material will decrease the effectiveness of cleaning solutions. A bleach solution of 3 cups of household bleach to a gallon of cool water should be sprayed or mopped on the area. Any feces in yards should be picked up on a daily basis. Flaming the surface soil can kill the eggs. Since mice and other rodents can serve as transport hosts, their control is also important.
Is there a vaccine?
Risk for humans?
Transmission to humans is rare. Hookworms can cause a skin disease in humans called “cutaneouslarvalmigrans” (the worm travels under the skin causing damage). Infections of the intestines in people can also cause a condition called 'eosinophilic enteritis", resulting in abdominal pain.