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Parasitology. 1993 Feb;106 ( Pt 2):163-9.

Observations on the feeding behaviour of parasitic third-stage hookworm larvae.

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  • 1Department of Pathobiology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.


The feeding behaviour of parasitic 3rd-stage larvae (L3) of the hookworms Ancylostoma caninum, A. ceylanicum and Necator americanus was examined. Less than 11% of A. caninum L3 recovered from the small intestines of dogs infected orally were feeding at 4-48 h post-infection (p.i.), and none of the A. ceylanicum L3 recovered from the intestines of orally infected hamsters had resumed feeding. All L4 of both species recovered at 36 and 48 h p.i. had resumed feeding. On the other hand, approximately 16% of the A. ceylanicum L3 recovered from the skin of percutaneously infected hamsters at 18 h were feeding, and the percentage feeding increased to nearly 58% at 44 h p.i. Necator americanus L3 recovered from the skin of percutaneously infected neonatal hamsters resumed feeding at 6-12 h p.i. and reached 90-94% by 18 h. Feeding began to decline at 66 h, and reached 29% at 120 h p.i. This decrease was associated with the migration of larvae from the skin to the lungs. By 192 h p.i. over 95% of the larvae had reached the small intestine, and all had moulted to the L4. The results indicate that parasitic L3 resume feeding in the skin during percutaneous infections, and suggest that feeding by hookworm L3 correlates with the resumption of development.

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