Hookworms are small parasitic worms (adult stage is approximately 1 centimeter long) which can infect the small intestines.
There are two major species of hookworms for which humans are the usual host, and three species that primarily infect dogs and cats that can also cause infection in humans.
Hookworms live in the small intestine. Hookworm eggs are passed in the feces (poo) of an infected person. If the infected person defecates outside (near bushes, in a garden, or field) of if the feces of an infected person are used as fertilizer, eggs are deposited on soil. They can then mature and hatch, releasing larvae (immature worms). The larvae mature into a form that can penetrate the skin of humans. Hookworm infection mainly happens by walking barefoot on contaminated soil.
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