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  • 22/09/2021

Silent impact of the neglected diseases

Release: 31st March 2020

Silent impact of the neglected diseases

Soil-transmitted helminth infections are among the most prevalent of the neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). In 2010, the World Bank estimated that 819 million people were infected with A. lumbricoides, 465 million with T. trichiura, and 439 million with hookworm. The regions with the highest prevalence of soil-transmitted helminth infection are East Asia, including the People’s Republic of China and the Pacific Islands, sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America and the Caribbean.

Soil-transmitted helminthiasis and hookworms generally peak in school-age children and may also remain throughout adulthood. Children with high-intensity Ascaris lumbricoides infection are at high risk of intestinal obstruction while adults may experience a range of acute complications during adulthood. The principal public health significance of these infections lies in their chronic effects on health and nutrition. Deworming has been shown to improve food intake by children, thereby improving weight and height gain. Hookworms cause blood loss. Hookworm disease is associated with poor iron status and iron-deficiency anaemia. It affects childhood growth, school performance and pregnancy. Schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminthiasis have an adverse effect on cognitive development.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the use of the Kato-Katz (KK) method for the detection of human helminth parasites whose eggs are eliminated via stool. The method relies on visual examination of prepared stool samples under light microscopy.

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Image hookworm larvae: