History of Discovery

Hookworm (Ancylostoma) was discovered by Dubini in Italy in 1834. Refers to “tunnel disease” found among the miners, brickmakers, pitman and other laborers during the construction of St. Gotthard tunnel, but it is unclear if the reference is solely due to the tunnel or the clinical characteristics of the disease.

In 1896 Arthur Looss was dropping cultures of larvae into the mouths of guinea pigs when he spilled some of the larvae culture onto his hand. He noticed that it produced a redness and itching and wondered if the infection had been passed through the skin. Looss hypothesized that hookworm infection did occur through the skin. He began examining his feces at intervals and, after a few weeks, found that he was passing hookworm eggs. The paper on this life cycle is considered a classic in the field.

Cutaneous larva migrans has been recognized as a clinical syndrome (“creeping eruption”) since before the 1800s, but the etiological agent (A. braziliense or A. caninum) was only elucidated by Kirby-Smith et al. in 1926.