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People, Parasites, and PlowsharesLearning From Our Body's Most Terrifying Invaders$
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Dickson Despommier

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231161947

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231161947.001.0001

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Hooked on Parasites

Hooked on Parasites

Ancylostoma duodenale and Necator americanus

Chapter:
(p.23) 2 Hooked on Parasites
Source:
People, Parasites, and Plowshares
Author(s):

Dickson D. Despommier

William C. Campbell

Publisher:
Columbia University Press
DOI:10.7312/columbia/9780231161947.003.0002

This chapter discusses the nature of hookworms and how it infects the body of its host. Specifically, it focuses on the characteristics of Ancylostoma duodenale and Necator americanus. These parasites fall into the general category of nematodes. Their infectious larva begins its journey to the small intestine by penetrating the skin, typically through a hair follicle. To do so, it deploys at least one secreted protein in the metalloprotease family of proteolytic enzymes, allowing it to literally digest its way into the bloodstream once it reaches the bottom of the follicle. After penetrating the body, they are carried by the bloodstream until they reach the lung capillaries, where they get stuck because their diameter is too large to fit through the narrow tubes. Feeling the pressure of being squeezed against the capillary's endothelial cells, the immature hookworms react by digging themselves out of the blood vessel.

Keywords:   Ancylostoma duodenale, Necator americanus, metalloprotease, proteolytic enzymes, parasitic infection, nematodes, hookworms

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