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Hookworm in the Northern Territory: down but not out

Hookworms (Ancylostoma duodenale and Necator americanus) are thought to infect 740 million people worldwide.1 Most infections occur in low- and middle-income countries where the root causes are socioeconomic vulnerability and limited access to safe water, good hygiene and adequate sanitation. Hookworm, along with other soil-transmitted helminthiases, is included in the World Health Organization category of neglected tropical diseases. A. duodenale is thought to be the exclusive species in the Northern Territory and is associated with the greatest intestinal blood loss.2,3

The major consequence of hookworm infection (HWI) is iron-deficiency anaemia, which is responsible for significant morbidity, particularly in children and pregnant women. In children, HWI is associated with impaired nutritional status and physical and mental development.4 HWI is considered a public health problem in a country when the prevalence of infection in children aged 1–14 years is > 1%. The WHO’s 2010 global…