Hookworms: What are they, how to treat them

Humans can be infected by the virus

By Melodi Smith - Multimedia Journalist

ORLANDO, Fla. - Two Palm Coast dog parks are temporarily closed Thursday after officials said a dog owner informed them that their dog has been infected with hookworms.

The dog parks are temporarily closed at James F. Holland Memorial Park, bumming out dog lovers in Flagler County.

"The dog was a puppy and it had been in both parks because it's a large dog breed but it's a smaller dog," Cindi Lane, Palm Coast spokesperson, said.

The city said it closed the parks to tackle the area with chemical spray, to prevent further infection.

"We felt we made the right decision to just go ahead and treat it out of an abundance of caution," Lane said.

"I don't know anything about hookworm. I just know it's not good for them," said Sheehy.

Hookworms are parasitic worms that spread through feces, and can affect animals and people.

"It's scary!" Laura Morgello said.

That's why Morgello said she's extra careful when she takes therapy dog, Lucy Lou, into the dog parks.

"Sometimes, people don't clean up after themselves and I don't want her to step on it," she said.

"It is a concern and that's why it's so important to pick up after your pet's waste," Lane said.

The city said the park will be closed for the next few days until the insecticide sets in.

"We'll just have to play in the house," Sheehy said.

If residents believe their dog may have been exposed, contact the city of Palm Coast and a veterinarian.

A Palm Coast dog park is closed Wednesday after officials said a dog owner informed them that their dog has been infected with hookworms.

The dog parks are temporarily closed at James F. Holland Memorial Park, bumming out dog lovers in Flagler County.

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What are hookworms?

A hookworm is an intestinal parasite no bigger than 3 millimeters long that can get into the intestines of a dog, cat or a human. The parasite has a hook mouthpiece and it attaches itself to the intestinal wall and feeds off of blood vessels in a dog's intestinal tract, according to the American Kennel Club.
 
How can your pet contract hookworms?
The American Kennel Club said pets can contract hookworms through ingesting tainted soil or pet feces, skin contact, or in the mother's womb or mother's milk.

What are the symptoms of your pets?
Symptoms in your pet can be anemia, pale gums, weakness, weight loss, bloody diarrhea and itchy paws, and it can be fatal.
 
What are the treatment options to treat hookworms in pets?
A veterinarian must be notified immediately if your pet has any symptoms, so they can prescribe medication to treat the symptoms.
 
Can hookworms affect humans?
Yes. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said a larger worm invades the intestines
of humans.
 
What are some of the potential hookworm symptoms in humans?
Symptoms include abdominal pain, colic, cramps, diarrhea, nausea, fever, blood in your stool, loss of appetite and an itchy rash.
 
What treatments can be used in humans?
A doctor can recommend that you take medication to destroy parasites in your intestines.

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