Most cases are contracted from walking barefoot on, or sunbathing, on beaches that have been contaminated by dog or cat hookworm larvae.
Hookworm, also known as Cutaneous Larva Migrans (CLM), is a skin infection primarily caused by Ancyclostoma braziliense hookworms. It is acquired by walking barefoot or sitting on soil or sand contaminated with dog or cat feces containing hookworm larvae. The hookworm eggs hatch in the soil or sand and the larvae migrate through a person's skin forming red burrows or tracks underneath the outer skin layer.
Cutaneous Larva Migrans is prevalent in tropical and subtropical areas of the Caribbean, South America, Asia, and Africa, but can also occur during the hot months in temperate regions. Travellers taking beach vacations are at greater risk.
Usually symptoms include itching (which can cause a secondary bacterial infection), mild swelling, and redness at the place of larval penetration, typically on a person's feet or buttocks. The burrows or tracks usually appear 1 to 5 days after exposure, but sometimes can take weeks to show up. In the majority of cases the infection suddenly disappears after a few weeks. Treatment includes applying anti-itch creams and taking anthelmintic drugs.
There is no preventive vaccine or medication against Hookworm.
Information last updated: July 5, 2016