Third world parasite plaguing rural Alabama county
Hookworm infections plaguing Lowndes County in Alabama as well as other areas in the U.S. "Black Belt" have been linked to poverty and poor sanitation conditions.
LOWNDES COUNTY, ALABAMA — Hookworm, disease that is typically associated with developing nations, has been found to be plaguing poor areas in the southern U.S.
According to a press release from the Baylor College of Medicine, 34.5% of 55 stool samples taken from Alabama's Lowndes County tested positive for a species of hookworm called Necator americanus.
Households in the county are poor and lack basic sanitation, with waste often discarded in the backyard. Residents exposed to the raw sewage may become infected with hookworm, which enters the human body through the feet.
The parasitic worm attaches itself to the walls of the small intestine, sucking the host's blood and causing anemia, weight loss, impaired mental function, and stunted growth in children.
The disease is a problem even for those who can afford to install their own septic tanks.
Sewage problems run rampant in Alabama's Black Belt region. The area's loamy soil prevents water from draining into the ground, and heavy rains often cause septic systems to overflow or back up.
Parasitic infections like hookworm are treatable with medication, but unless sanitation conditions improve, people will just get re-infected with the disease.
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