Can Dogs Spread Hookworms to Humans?

by Victoria Lee Blackstone
    Walking barefoot in areas with infected dog feces increases the risk of hookworms.

    Walking barefoot in areas with infected dog feces increases the risk of hookworms.

    Steve Mason/Photodisc/Getty Images

    Hookworms cause a parasitic infection through a variety of hookworm species including a. braziliense, a. caninum and u. stenocephala. In dogs, these worms attach to the walls of the small intestine and suck blood and tissue, which, in large infestations, can result in severe blood loss. Hookworms are a zoonotic parasite, meaning they can infect other species, such as humans. While you can get a hookworm infection from an infected dog, how you contract the worms is typically through indirect contact.

    Hookworm Transmission in Dogs

    Hookworm larvae pass through the feces of infected animals, allowing the larvae to enter soil and water. Infection occurs when dogs ingest larvae through contaminated food or water or eat an infected animal or feces. Larvae and adult worms are able to penetrate the skin, so dogs lying or walking on infected soil can acquire an infestation this way. Mother dogs also can pass a hookworm infection to fetuses.

    Hookworm Transmission in Humans

    The common method of transmission to humans is through skin penetration. If an infected dog has passed eggs or larvae in their stool, these enter the soil or water in the yard. By walking barefoot or sitting in the grass, hookworms can penetrate your skin. Unlike an infestation in a dog, hookworms stay under the surface of human skin, causing red lines and itchiness. The condition disappears within a few days after the larvae die.

    Photo Credits

    • Steve Mason/Photodisc/Getty Images

    About the Author

    Victoria Lee Blackstone is a horticulturist who propagates heirloom and native plants for her nursery. She has authored research-based scientific/technical papers, plant care sheets and magazine and newspaper articles. Blackstone studied botany and microbiology at Clemson University and is a former University of Georgia Extension Master Gardener Coordinator.

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