Effect of Nutritional Repletion on Human Hookworm Infection

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  • Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, Universidad del Valle, International Center for Medical Research and Training, School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Tulane University, Cali, Colombia

The influence of nutritional repletion on human hookworm infection was studied, in a metabolic ward, in 12 patients with marked malnutrition and heavy hookworm infections. After an initial period on a control diet containing equal quantities of protein, 3 patients were given increasing quantities of dietary protein (isocalorically replacing carbohydrate) in a stepwise fashion; the remaining 9 received protein diets at single higher levels. The degree of hookworm infection was monitored by, 1) periodic quantitative egg count in all patients; 2) measurement of intestinal blood loss (by 51Cr and 59Fe) in 3; and 3) a continuous search for spontaneously expelled worms in 3 cases. Results were obtained during the dietary rehabilitation period, which extended to 29 weeks. The data indicate that nutritional repletion does not influence the degree of hookworm infection. The average egg output was essentially unchanged in 11 of 12 subjects; the amount of intestinal hemorrhage did not change significantly, and expulsion of worms in the feces could not be demonstrated during or after protein repletion.