Sunday, December 07, 2008
Hookworm is a major cause of anemia-related morbidity in the developing world. The Ancyclostoma Duodenale hookworm species looks scary under the electron microscope. Actual size is only 8-11 mm. The worm sinks those teeth into the wall of the small intestine and drinks blood from the capillary rich mucosa.
Each adult worm can consume up to about 0.25ml of blood per day. Many patients--especially children--are heavily infected. An infection of 100 worms could cause 25 cc blood loss per day, which is one unit of blood every 10 days. On top of HIV, tuberculosis, malaria, sickle cell, and poor nutrition in subsaharan Africa (all causes of anemia), it is easy to see how hookworm-related anemia is a big problem.