1899 - 1800United States of America

Arthur Looss was sent by Rudolf Leuckart to Egypt to study the transmission of bilharzia, where he became accidentally infected with hookworm, and in so doing discovered the method by which the larvae penetrate the skin. He spilt some larval culture onto his hand in 1896, while dropping it into the mouths of guinea pigs; observing the irritation this caused to his skin, he hypothesized that infection pass through the skin. He examined his faeces at intervals and found hookworm eggs in it a few weeks later. The paper he wrote about the life cycle of the hookworm is considered a classic in the field. He later described the species as Ancylostoma duodenale.

In the early part of the 20th century, hookworm disease was such a serious problem in the United States that the Rockefeller Foundation took on the task of controlling the disease, an activity that subsequently led to the establishment of a number of Schools of Public Health and the creation of the World Health Organization.


  • P. R. (1924). “The death of Arthur Looss”. American Journal of Public Health. 13(8): 659.
  • Kean, B. H., K. E. Mott, and A. J. Russell (ed.).1978. Tropical medicine and parasitology: classic investigations. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, N.Y.
  • Looss, A.1898. Zur Lebensgeschichte des Ankylostoma duodenale.  Bakteriol. Parasitol Infekt. 24:483-488

Photo: http://sciencelearn.org.nz/Contexts/Fighting-Infection/Sci-Media/Video/Hookworm