Ancylostoma duodenale An Overview

Ancylostoma duodenale is a parasitic nematode, commonly known as a hookworm. It is one of the two main species of hookworms that infect humans, the other being Necator americanus.

Ancylostoma duodenale is primarily found in parts of Africa, Asia, and Southern Europe, particularly in regions with warm, moist climates. It is a small, thread-like worm with a hooked mouthpart that it uses to attach itself to the lining of the small intestine of its host.

The life cycle of Ancylostoma duodenale involves several stages. The adult worms lay eggs within the host’s intestines, which are then excreted in the host’s feces. Under favorable conditions, these eggs hatch into larvae in the environment. The larvae can penetrate the skin of a new host (usually through bare feet), enter the bloodstream, and eventually migrate to the lungs. From there, they are coughed up and swallowed, reaching the small intestine where they mature into adult worms and the cycle continues.

Infections with Ancylostoma duodenale can lead to a condition known as hookworm disease or ancylostomiasis. Symptoms may include abdominal pain, diarrhea, anemia (due to blood loss from the intestine), and in severe cases, protein deficiency and developmental issues, especially in children.

Prevention and control strategies for Ancylostoma duodenale and other hookworm infections involve measures such as improved sanitation, wearing shoes in areas where the parasite is prevalent, and deworming programs in affected communities.

Systematic Position of Ancylostoma duodenale

Ancylostoma duodenale belongs to the phylum Nematoda, which encompasses a diverse group of roundworms. Within this phylum, it is further classified as follows:

  • Phylum: Nematoda (Roundworms)
  • Class: Secernentea
  • Order: Strongylida
  • Family: Ancylostomatidae
  • Genus: Ancylostoma
  • Species: Ancylostoma duodenale

Ancylostoma duodenale is a species within the genus Ancylostoma, commonly known as hookworms. These parasitic nematodes are characterized by their hook-like mouthparts, which they use to attach to the intestinal lining of their host. The species name “duodenale” specifically refers to the first part of the small intestine (duodenum), where these worms are often found.

Habits and Habitat of Ancylostoma duodenale


Ancylostoma duodenale is primarily found in regions with warm, moist climates. It is prevalent in parts of Africa, Asia, and Southern Europe. This hookworm species thrives in areas where the soil is well-drained and rich in organic matter, providing a suitable environment for the development of its larvae.

Habit and Life Cycle:

  • Parasitic Lifestyle:

Ancylostoma duodenale is an intestinal parasite of humans. It resides in the small intestine, where it attaches to the intestinal lining using its hook-like mouthparts.

  • Feeding Behavior:

The adult hookworm feeds on the host’s blood by attaching itself to the intestinal mucosa. This feeding can lead to blood loss and anemia in the host, especially in cases of heavy infection.

  • Egg Production:

Adult female Ancylostoma duodenale worms lay eggs within the host’s intestines. These eggs are then excreted in the host’s feces.

  • Larval Development:

Once in the external environment, under suitable conditions (warm, moist soil), the eggs hatch, releasing larvae. These larvae go through several molts, developing into infective third-stage larvae.

  • Infection of Host:

The infective larvae can penetrate the host’s skin, typically through bare feet when in contact with contaminated soil. They then migrate through the bloodstream to the lungs, are coughed up and swallowed, and eventually reach the small intestine where they mature into adult worms.

Adaptations for Survival:

  • Hooked Mouthparts:

Ancylostoma duodenale has specialized mouthparts with hooks that allow it to attach firmly to the host’s intestinal lining, aiding in feeding and survival.

  • Cuticle Adaptations:

The worm’s outer covering (cuticle) is adapted for protection and to resist the host’s digestive enzymes.

  • Favorable Environmental Conditions:

The larvae are adapted to survive in warm, moist soil, where they can develop and become infective.

  • Host Preference:

Ancylostoma duodenale primarily infects humans, although it can also infect other mammals under certain circumstances. Humans become infected through direct contact with contaminated soil or surfaces.

Transmission Risk Factors:

  • Walking barefoot in areas where the parasite is prevalent.
  • Poor sanitation and hygiene practices in communities.

Morphology of Ancylostoma duodenale

  1. Size and Shape:

Adult Ancylostoma duodenale worms are relatively small, measuring about 1 cm in length. They have a slender, cylindrical body.

  1. Mouthparts:

One of the distinctive features of Ancylostoma duodenale is its hook-like mouthparts, which give the hookworm its name. These specialized mouthparts are adapted for attaching to the intestinal mucosa of its host.

  1. Cuticle:

The outer covering of the worm, known as the cuticle, is tough and resistant to host digestive enzymes. This adaptation helps protect the worm while it resides in the host’s intestine.

  1. Coloration:

Adult Ancylostoma duodenale worms are generally translucent or pale in color, allowing them to blend in with the intestinal environment.

  1. Sexual Dimorphism:

    • Ancylostoma duodenale exhibits sexual dimorphism, meaning there are distinct morphological differences between males and females.
      • Males: The males have a more curved posterior end, equipped with copulatory bursa, a fan-like structure that aids in holding onto the female during copulation.
      • Females: The females have a straighter posterior end and are typically larger than the males. They possess a vulva for reproduction.
  1. Digestive Tract:

Hookworms have a relatively simple digestive system, lacking a specialized anus. Nutrient absorption occurs directly through the body wall.

  1. Reproductive System:

Ancylostoma duodenale is dioecious, meaning males and females are separate individuals. The female produces eggs which are passed out with the host’s feces.

  1. Musculature:

Like other nematodes, Ancylostoma duodenale possesses longitudinal muscle bands that allow for movement and locomotion.

  1. Esophagus:

The esophagus is a tubular structure that connects the mouth to the intestine. It serves to transport ingested blood and tissue fluids to the intestinal tract for digestion.

  1. Excretory System:

Ancylostoma duodenale, like other nematodes, possesses a protonephridial system for excreting metabolic waste products.

Life cycle of Ancylostoma duodenale

  • Egg Stage:

The adult female Ancylostoma duodenale worms lay eggs within the host’s intestines. These eggs are then passed out with the host’s feces into the external environment.

  • Larval Development in the Environment:

Under favorable environmental conditions (warm, moist soil), the eggs hatch and release larvae. These larvae go through several molts, developing into infective third-stage larvae.

  • Infection of Host:

The infective larvae can penetrate the host’s skin, usually through direct contact with contaminated soil, particularly through bare feet. They then migrate through the bloodstream to the lungs.

  • Migration to the Small Intestine:

Once in the lungs, the larvae are coughed up and subsequently swallowed. This action allows them to reach the small intestine, where they mature into adult worms.

  • Attachment and Feeding:

Adult Ancylostoma duodenale worms attach themselves to the intestinal mucosa of the host using their hook-like mouthparts. They then feed on the host’s blood.

  • Egg Production:

Within the small intestine, adult female worms produce large numbers of eggs, which are then excreted with the host’s feces.

  • Excretion of Eggs:

The eggs are excreted into the external environment with the host’s feces, completing the life cycle and potentially leading to new infections if proper hygiene and sanitation practices are not observed.

Pathogenicity of Ancylostoma duodenale

  • Blood-Feeding Parasite:

Ancylostoma duodenale is a hematophagous (blood-feeding) parasite. Adult worms attach themselves to the mucosa of the small intestine, where they use their specialized mouthparts to puncture blood vessels and feed on the host’s blood. This feeding behavior can lead to chronic, low-level blood loss.

  • Anemia:

Prolonged infestations with Ancylostoma duodenale can lead to iron-deficiency anemia in the host. This is a result of the ongoing blood loss caused by the feeding activity of the hookworms.

  • Malnutrition:

In severe cases of infestation, especially in individuals with poor nutrition, ancylostomiasis can lead to malnutrition due to both the direct blood loss and the impact on nutrient absorption in the intestine.

  • Weakness and Fatigue:

Anemia and malnutrition can lead to symptoms such as weakness, fatigue, and pale skin, which are common in individuals suffering from hookworm disease.

  • Gastrointestinal Disturbances:

In addition to the direct blood loss, Ancylostoma duodenale can cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, and nausea.

  • Delayed Growth and Development (in children):

In children, chronic infestations with hookworms can lead to delayed growth and development. The combination of malnutrition and blood loss can hinder normal physical and cognitive development.

  • Impaired Immune Function:

Chronic hookworm infestations can weaken the host’s immune system, making them more susceptible to other infections and illnesses.

  • Skin Infections (Cutaneous Larva Migrans):

The larvae of Ancylostoma duodenale can cause a skin condition known as cutaneous larva migrans when they penetrate the skin. This condition is characterized by itchy, red, and raised tracks on the skin.

Diagnosis of Ancylostoma duodenale

The diagnosis of Ancylostoma duodenale infection, also known as hookworm disease or ancylostomiasis, involves a combination of clinical assessment, laboratory tests, and sometimes, direct visualization of the parasites.

  • Clinical Assessment:

Healthcare providers evaluate the patient’s symptoms and medical history, especially if they have recently traveled to or reside in regions where hookworm infections are prevalent. Common symptoms may include anemia, abdominal pain, diarrhea, weakness, and fatigue.

  • Stool Examination:

Microscopic examination of stool samples is the primary diagnostic method for detecting hookworm infections. The eggs of Ancylostoma duodenale can be visualized in a stool sample using a microscope. It’s important to note that stool samples may need to be collected on multiple occasions, as egg output can be intermittent.

  • Serological Tests:

Blood tests can be performed to detect specific antibodies produced by the host in response to hookworm infection. These tests can be helpful in confirming an active or past infection, but they are not always reliable for acute cases.

  • PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction):

Molecular techniques like PCR can be used to detect the DNA of Ancylostoma duodenale in stool samples. This method provides a sensitive and specific way to confirm the presence of the parasite.

  • Duodenal Aspirate or Biopsy (Less Common):

In some cases, especially if other methods are inconclusive, a healthcare provider may perform an endoscopy to obtain a sample from the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine) for direct examination. This is less commonly used due to its invasive nature.

  • Cutaneous Larva Migrans (CLM) Examination (For Larval Migration):

In cases where the larvae have penetrated the skin, clinical examination and possibly skin biopsy can help identify characteristic tracks or lesions caused by larval migration (cutaneous larva migrans).

It’s important to note that proper sample collection, handling, and laboratory techniques are crucial for accurate diagnosis. Additionally, in regions where hookworm infections are prevalent, routine screening and deworming programs may be implemented as a public health measure, especially in at-risk populations.

Ultimately, the choice of diagnostic method depends on various factors, including the patient’s symptoms, travel history, and the availability of specific laboratory resources.

Treatments and prophylaxis of Ancylostoma duodenale


  1. Anthelminthic Medications:
    • Anthelminthic drugs are the primary treatment for Ancylostoma duodenale infection. Commonly used medications include:
      • Albendazole
      • Mebendazole
      • Pyrantel pamoate
    • These drugs work by disrupting the metabolism and structure of the parasite, leading to its expulsion from the body. A single dose is often effective, but sometimes a second dose may be needed after a few weeks.
  2. Iron Supplementation:

If the individual has developed anemia due to chronic infection, iron supplements may be prescribed to replenish iron stores.

  1. Hygiene Measures:
    • Educating individuals on proper hygiene practices is essential for preventing reinfection and controlling the spread of hookworms. This includes:
      • Wearing shoes or protective footwear, especially in areas where the soil may be contaminated.
      • Avoiding direct contact with soil, especially in areas known to be endemic for hookworms.
      • Practicing good hand hygiene, especially before handling food or after using the restroom.

Prophylaxis (Prevention):

  • Improved Sanitation:

Access to clean water, proper sewage disposal, and improved sanitation facilities help reduce the contamination of soil with hookworm larvae.

  • Vector Control:

In some cases, environmental measures may be taken to reduce the presence of hookworm larvae in the soil. This may include treating soil with chemicals or implementing other control measures.

  • Health Education:

Public health campaigns and education programs can inform communities about the risks of hookworm infection and promote preventive measures, such as wearing shoes and practicing good hygiene.

  • Routine Deworming Programs:

In endemic regions or communities with a high prevalence of hookworm infection, mass deworming programs may be implemented. These programs involve administering anthelminthic drugs to large groups of people, particularly at-risk populations like schoolchildren.

  • Prenatal Screening and Treatment:

In areas where hookworm infection is common, screening and treating pregnant women for hookworm can help prevent anemia in both the mother and the developing fetus.

  • Soil Improvement:

Implementing measures to reduce soil contamination with hookworm larvae, such as covering latrines and providing proper waste disposal facilities, can help prevent environmental transmission.

Disclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes only, based on publicly available knowledge. It is not a substitute for professional advice, consultation, or medical treatment. Readers are strongly advised to seek guidance from qualified professionals, advisors, or healthcare practitioners for any specific concerns or conditions. The content on is presented as general information and is provided “as is,” without any warranties or guarantees. Users assume all risks associated with its use, and we disclaim any liability for any damages that may occur as a result.

error: Content is protected !!