This is a disease caused by the presence
of the parasite "hook worm" in the intestines.
These worms attach themselves to the mucous membrane
of the small intestine by a series of books situated
around the mouth of the parasite. The bite of the worm
causes loss of blood and anemia. The female worm lays
a large number of eggs, which pass away in the human
faeces. Favourable conditions for the development of
the eggs are a warm, moist atmosphere and absence of
Recent research on this disease has established one
or two important facts. The first is that whilst it
was formerly believed that the ova could not develop
at temperatures below 680 F., it has now
been definitely established that development can proceed
at any temperature between 530 F. and 980
F. Thus, if the ova were introduced, the disease could
develop in any mine whose temperature ranged between
The second point is that again, contrary to previous
belief, the larvae do not only enter the intestines
by the mouth of the victim, but may gain access through
Dr. Haldane observed that a skin affection known as
"hunches" was common among the infected miners,
and investigation showed that this was due to the larvae
of the worm. It has been shown that two days after the
larvae have been applied to the skin the parasite was
present in the intestines.
The symptoms of ankylostomlasis are those of anemia;
it is seldom, however, that the disease is fatal. Treatment
consists in the use of a suitable purgative.
Preventive measure consists in isolating any workman
affected, the provision of suitable conveniences underground
and the liberal use of disinfectants.