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Soil-transmitted helminths refer to the intestinal worms infecting humans that are transmitted through contaminated soil (“helminth” means parasitic worm): Ascaris lumbricoides (sometimes called just “Ascaris“), whipworm (Trichuris trichiura), and hookworm (Anclostoma duodenale and Necator americanus). Soil-transmitted helminth infections are caused by different species of parasitic worms. They are transmitted by eggs present in human faeces, which contaminate the soil in areas where sanitation is poor. Approximately billion people are infected with soil-transmitted helminths worldwide. Soil-transmitted helminth infections. Jourdan PM(1), Lamberton PHL(2), Fenwick A(3), Addiss DG(4). Author information: (1)Schistosomiasis.


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What are intestinal worms (soil transmitted helminthiasis) ?

This Seminar describes the epidemiology, lifecycles, pathophysiology, clinical diagnosis, management, and public health control of soil-transmitted helminths.

Concomitant infections with other parasite species are frequent and may have additional effects on soil transmitted helminths status and organ pathology. Transmission Soil-transmitted helminths live in the intestine of infected individuals where they produce thousands of eggs each day that are passed in the faeces.

Infected children are nutritionally and physically impaired.


Control is based on periodical deworming to eliminate infecting worms, health education to prevent re-infection, and improved sanitation to reduce soil contamination with soil transmitted helminths eggs.

Safe and effective medicines are available to control infection.

Soil-transmitted helminth infections

Soil-transmitted helminth infections are among the most common infections worldwide and affect the poorest and most deprived communities. They are transmitted by eggs present in human faeces which in turn contaminate soil in areas where sanitation is soil transmitted helminths.

The main species that infect people are the roundworm Ascaris lumbricoidesthe whipworm Trichuris trichiura and hookworms Necator americanus and Ancylostoma duodenale. In fact it is the leading cause of anaemia and protein deficiency in developing nationsaffected an estimated million people.

Unlike soil transmitted helminths STHs, in which school-age children are most affected, high-intensity hookworm infections are more frequent in adults, specifically women. Roughly, 44 million pregnant women are estimated to be infected. The disease causes severe adverse effects in both the mother and infant, such as low soil transmitted helminths weight, impaired milk production, and increased risk of mortality.

Health education messages can be delivered by teachers in schools, thereby fostering changes in health-related behavior in children, which in turn involves their parents and guardians.

Soil-transmitted helminth infections

Sanitation and personal hygiene Human STHs are fecal-borne infections, and transmission occurs either directly hand-to-mouth or indirectly through food and water.

Sanitation in the context of economic development is the only definitive intervention that eliminates these infections. Improvement of sanitation standards soil transmitted helminths has a repercussion on infection and re- infection levels.

Sanitation is inadequate in most cities in developing countries, with major effects on STH infections. In this situation, piped sewers are an appropriate solution, and it is questionable as to whether efforts should focus on systems based on onsite solutions, such as latrines.

In a meta-analysis study,[ 45 ] data suggested that sewerage typically has a positive effect on enteric infectious disease burden. A systematic review and meta-analysis[ 46 ] suggested that water, sanitation, and hygiene interventions as well as their combination, are effective at reducing diarrheal illnesses and STH infections.

This review identifies many research questions that need more soil transmitted helminths In another review,[ 47 ] consistent soil transmitted helminths 30 studies of intervention and 24 observational studies during a year period support the conclusion that hygiene interventions other than infrastructure implementation are important for preventing infections, particularly the STH infections.

Environmental factors such as water supply for domestic and personal hygiene, sanitation and housing conditions; and other factors such as socioeconomic, demographic and health related behavior are known to influence this infection.

CDC - Soil-transmitted Helminths

Two principal factors in maintaining endemicity of these helminths are favorable qualities of the soil and the frequent contamination of the environment soil transmitted helminths human feces. Their transmission within the community soil transmitted helminths predominantly related to human habits with regard to eating, defecation, personal hygiene and cleanliness.

Sanitation factors such as the reliability of water supply, frequency of rubbish collection and proximity to overflowing or visible sewage are not under the control of individual households.