Going barefoot in parts of Africa, Asia, and South America contributes to hookworm infections, which afflict an estimated 700 million of the world’s poor. The parasitic worm lives in the soil and enters the body through the feet. By feeding on victims’ blood, the worms cause anemia and, in children, stunted growth and learning problems.
Researchers have decoded the genome of the hookworm, Necator americanus, and found clues to how it infects and survives in humans. The findings may aid in development of new therapies to combat hookworm disease.
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