Hookworms are small, thread-like worms, and very difficult to see with the naked eye. The worms attach themselves to the intestines and suck blood, which results in blood loss and anaemia. The hookworm larvae, which are in the soil, enter the body by burrowing through the skin of the feet if the child is walking about barefoot. The soil gets contaminated by the faeces of people who have hookworm infection. The larvae go on a long journey in the body through the lungs, up the windpipe and down again into the stomach, and once they become adult worms, they attach themselves to the intestine and suck blood.
The eggs of the worms are passed in the stool and can be seen easily with a microscope. If the child has hookworms he should be treated promptly, and also be given medicine to improve anaemia The most important public health measure is use of lavatories and the proper disposal of sewage. Wearing shoes all the time is impracticable but in the hookworm area the child should wear shoes or at least slippers while he is playing outside the house.