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Infectious Diseases

Do I have worms?

02/19/2008

Question:

We adopted a dog from SPCA and we learned from our vet that she was infested with hook and round worms. She was treated. I have had an upset stomach for a while and my right eye has been twitching. I have not seen any worms in my stool, but our dog is very loving and licked my face. Can worms travel behind the eye?

Answer:

Human roundworms and hookworms have two different ways of infecting people. After a human ingests roundworm eggs, they hatch in the small intestine, and the larvae penetrate the intestinal wall and migrate via blood vessels to the lungs. Hookworm larvae penetrate the skin and are carried by the circulation to the lungs. In the lungs, both species of worms break out into the alveoli and pass up through the bronchi and trachea, where they are then swallowed to return to the intestines and become mature worms. Rarely, the larva migrate into other areas of tissue, and it would not be impossible for a worm larva to travel behind the eye, but it probably wouldn’t cause a problem. Fortunately, the roundworms and hookworms that affect dogs and cats are different from those that affect humans. You should ask your doctor if your symptoms persist.

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Response by:

Lisa A Haglund, MD Lisa A Haglund, MD
Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati