Human Hookworm Treatment
An infection of hookworm in humans is a fairly common soil transmitted illness. Worldwide it is estimated that approximately 740 million people are affected, the majority of whom show no symptoms. Primarily affected are those who live in impoverished regions, a fact which has historically proven to undermine the importance of prevention and treatment. The highest number of infection occurs in rural tropical and subtropical regions, primarily in China and parts of Africa. There are currently several promising treatments being developed in the form of chemotherapeutics and a medicinal vaccine.
The United States has one of the most thorough medical treatments for hookworm in the world. Chemotherapeutics are available, including benzimidazoles and pyrantel pamoate. These drugs have a cure rate of up to 90% after a full course, but reinfection is still possible and remains a serious problem. Exposure does not equal long term immunity. For younger patients, iron supplements can help develop motor and language skills, and nutritional support is also beneficial since hookworm can induce malnutrition and anemia.
The most common treatment, mebendazole, is a prescription medication commercially called Vermox. The drug works by irreversibly blocking the worms intake of glucose, which causes immobilization and death. It is administered in two ways, a one-time dose of 500mg or taken twice daily for three days. After three or four weeks, a second dose may be administered. It is usually only given to humans and carries an effectiveness rate of up to 50% after the first course.
The second most commonly prescribed hookworm treatment is commercially known as Albenza. The dose is usually 400mg for adults and 200mg for children. This dose is taken for three days and repeated after three weeks to unsure removal of hookworm. Side effects include dizziness, headache fever, vomiting and temporary hair loss.
Prescribed in both humans and pets, pyrantel pamoate is used to cure several types of worms, including pinworm and hookworm. Marketed commercially as “Pin-x” and given to humans in a once a day dose of 11mg. It acts as a neuromuscular blocker, causing paralysis of the worm, which loses its grip on the intestinal wall. It is then passed through the system, but does not damage the host’s system. Pyrantel pamoate is considered safe for use in nursing and pregnant women.