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Roundworms and Hookworms

Hookworms and roundworms are tiny parasites that can be passed from animal feces to humans. Waste from pet dogs, cats, and raccoons is a common source of human infection.

Hookworms can cause redness, pain, and itching when they travel under the skin. Both kinds of worms can hatch in the stomach and cause stomach pain, nausea, and diarrhea. Sometimes hookworms and roundworms travel to other parts of the body. They can cause more serious complications.

You can get these parasites in different ways.

  • Sitting, working, playing, or walking barefoot on soil or sand where hookworms have hatched gives them a chance to burrow into your skin.
  • You can swallow hookworm or roundworm eggs when you eat with unwashed hands after touching soil or sand that has the eggs in it.
  • You can swallow hookworm or roundworm eggs with unwashed food.

Infection is most common in children, because they spend lots of time with animals and playing in the sand or dirt.

Sometimes, worms aren't harmful and cause no symptoms. Children tend to have the most serious symptoms. Medicine is used for treatment.

To protect against hookworms and roundworms:

  • Teach children that it is dangerous to eat soil. Teach children to wash their hands after they play outside.
  • Use shoes and gloves when you walk on or handle soil or sand. On a beach, avoid sitting directly on the sand.
  • Clean up pet waste often. This helps prevent any worm eggs from hatching into the soil.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables before you eat them.
  • De-worm pets to reduce the chance of getting this disease from them. Talk to your veterinarian about what to use and how often.

Last Revised: May 8, 2013

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Leslie Tengelsen, DVM, PhD

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