07 February 2018

Hookworm as a souvenir of your beach vacation

Hookworms infect 740 million people worldwide, mostly in poorer countries with subpar sanitation. But they can show up anywhere. The Dominican Republic certainly has them, as does most of Africa, South and Central America, and Asia. And until the early 20th century, large swaths of the United States had them too. In fact, parts of rural Alabama still play host to hookworms...

You’ll probably find plenty of information about the vaccines you should get (mostly hepatitis A and B, rabies, and yellow fever). There will be warnings about the dangers of dengue, schistosomiasis, and malaria. But you're unlikely to spot anything about hookworms.

This might be because you can’t actually prepare for hookworms before you go. As a traveler, all you can do is wear sandals on the beach, sit on towels, and wash off with soap and water after you touch sand. But if no one tells them in advance, the average person (from a non-hookworm-plagued country) won’t think to wear shoes on the beach. Most American seasides are free of hookworms, so we’re not trained to think about these things before we hit the waves.
More at Popular Science.

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