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1.  Risk Factors for Helminth, Malaria, and HIV Infection in Pregnancy in Entebbe, Uganda 
Infections during pregnancy may have serious consequences for both mother and baby. Assessment of risk factors for infections informs planning of interventions and analysis of the impact of infections on health outcomes.
To describe risk factors for helminths, malaria and HIV in pregnant Ugandan women before intervention in a trial of de-worming in pregnancy.
The trial recruited 2,507 pregnant women between April 2003 and November 2005. Participants were interviewed and blood and stool samples obtained; location of residence at enrolment was mapped. Demographic, socioeconomic, behavioral and other risk factors were modelled using logistic regression.
There was a high prevalence of helminth, malaria and HIV infection, as previously reported. All helminths and malaria parasitemia were more common in younger women, and education was protective against every infection. Place of birth and/or tribe affected all helminths in a pattern consistent with the geographical distribution of helminth infections in Uganda. Four different geohelminths (hookworm, Trichuris, Ascaris and Trichostrongylus) showed a downwards trend in prevalence during the enrolment period. There was a negative association between hookworm and HIV, and between hookworm and low CD4 count among HIV-positive women. Locally, high prevalence of schistosomiasis and HIV occurred in lakeshore communities.
Interventions for helminths, malaria and HIV need to target young women both in and out of school. Antenatal interventions for malaria and HIV infection must continue to be promoted. Women originating from a high risk area for a helminth infection remain at high risk after migration to a lower-risk area, and vice versa, but overall, geohelminths seem to be becoming less common in this population. High risk populations, such as fishing communities, require directed effort against schistosomiasis and HIV infection.
Author Summary
Infections in pregnancy can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, maternal mortality, and low birth weight and have other long-term complications for mother and baby, although the full impact of many infections, particularly worm infections, is not yet fully understood. There is a high burden of infectious disease in many developing countries. In this analysis, we identified which factors put pregnant women in Entebbe, Uganda, at particular risk for worm infections, malaria, HIV, and, where possible, rarer infections including syphilis. The women in this study, and their children, will be followed up to determine the long-term effects of exposure of the fetus to these maternal infections on health during childhood. The findings of this baseline analysis will help in the interpretation of the long-term outcomes. The findings also highlight which groups are most at risk of each infection, and this may help in targeting interventions to prevent, treat, or mitigate the impact of infections in pregnancy.
PMCID: PMC2696595  PMID: 19564904
2.  Mapping the Risk of Anaemia in Preschool-Age Children: The Contribution of Malnutrition, Malaria, and Helminth Infections in West Africa 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(6):e1000438.
Ricardo Soares Magalhães and colleagues used national cross-sectional household-based demographic health surveys to map the distribution of anemia risk in preschool children in Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Mali.
Childhood anaemia is considered a severe public health problem in most countries of sub-Saharan Africa. We investigated the geographical distribution of prevalence of anaemia and mean haemoglobin concentration (Hb) in children aged 1–4 y (preschool children) in West Africa. The aim was to estimate the geographical risk profile of anaemia accounting for malnutrition, malaria, and helminth infections, the risk of anaemia attributable to these factors, and the number of anaemia cases in preschool children for 2011.
Methods and Findings
National cross-sectional household-based demographic health surveys were conducted in 7,147 children aged 1–4 y in Burkina Faso, Ghana, and Mali in 2003–2006. Bayesian geostatistical models were developed to predict the geographical distribution of mean Hb and anaemia risk, adjusting for the nutritional status of preschool children, the location of their residence, predicted Plasmodium falciparum parasite rate in the 2- to 10-y age group (Pf PR2–10), and predicted prevalence of Schistosoma haematobium and hookworm infections. In the four countries, prevalence of mild, moderate, and severe anaemia was 21%, 66%, and 13% in Burkina Faso; 28%, 65%, and 7% in Ghana, and 26%, 62%, and 12% in Mali. The mean Hb was lowest in Burkina Faso (89 g/l), in males (93 g/l), and for children 1–2 y (88 g/l). In West Africa, severe malnutrition, Pf PR2–10, and biological synergisms between S. haematobium and hookworm infections were significantly associated with anaemia risk; an estimated 36.8%, 14.9%, 3.7%, 4.2%, and 0.9% of anaemia cases could be averted by treating malnutrition, malaria, S. haematobium infections, hookworm infections, and S. haematobium/hookworm coinfections, respectively. A large spatial cluster of low mean Hb (<80 g/l) and maximal risk of anaemia (>95%) was predicted for an area shared by Burkina Faso and Mali. We estimate that in 2011, approximately 6.7 million children aged 1–4 y are anaemic in the three study countries.
By mapping the distribution of anaemia risk in preschool children adjusted for malnutrition and parasitic infections, we provide a means to identify the geographical limits of anaemia burden and the contribution that malnutrition and parasites make to anaemia. Spatial targeting of ancillary micronutrient supplementation and control of other anaemia causes, such as malaria and helminth infection, can contribute to efficiently reducing the burden of anaemia in preschool children in Africa.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Global estimates for the time period 1993–2005 suggest that that worldwide, nearly 300 million children had anemia, that is, hemoglobin levels less than 110 g/l. In sub-Saharan Africa, two-thirds of all children were anemic, representing 83.5 million children. These statistics are important because anemia in infancy and childhood is associated with poor cognitive development, reduced growth, problems with immune function—and ultimately, decreased survival. Malnutrition (including micronutrient deficiency, especially of iron, vitamin A, vitamin C, and folate), undernutrition, and infectious diseases, particularly HIV, malaria, and helminth infections (caused by hookworm and Schistosoma haematobium—which causes urinary schistosomiasis), are major causes of anemia in children. Although iron supplementation can often correct anemia, in some circumstances, iron deficiency can protect against common infectious agents, and giving iron can, on occasion, increase the severity of infectious disease in some children. Focusing on the treatment and prevention of infectious diseases that cause anemia is therefore an important alternative strategy in the treatment of anemia.
Why Was This Study Done?
Control tools for targeting interventions for malaria and helminth infection in sub-Saharan Africa include modern spatial risk prediction methods that combine statistical models with geographical information systems (similar to those used in car navigation systems). However, to date no studies have used these tools to spatially predict the risk of anemia. Furthermore, the contribution that malnutrition and infections make to the overall anemia burden in Africa is largely unknown. In this study the researchers used these tools to predict the prevalence of anemia in three West African countries and to estimate the attributable risk of anemia due to malnutrition, malaria, and helminth infections.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used geographically linked data from the most recent Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) in Burkina Faso (2003), Ghana (2003), and Mali (2006), which included capillary blood sampling and testing and detailed anthropometric (height and weight) measurements. A total of 7,147 children aged 1–4 years (3,477 girls and 3,670 boys) in the three countries were included in the analysis. The researchers mapped DHS survey locations in the three study countries using DHS cluster coordinates in a geographic information system. Using data from the Malaria Atlas Project, the researchers extracted spatially predicted values of Plasmodium falciparum parasite rate for each DHS cluster using a geographical information system and used previously reported parasitological survey data of hookworm and S. haematobium infections to predict helminth infection risk across the region. Then the researchers developed spatial prediction models using Bayesian statistics to estimate of the population attributable fraction for specific predictors for anemia. Data from the DHS showed that the prevalence of mild, moderate, and severe anemia was 21%, 66%, and 13% in Burkina Faso; 28%, 65%, and 7% in Ghana, and 26%, 62%, and 12% in Mali. The prevalence of stunting, wasting, and being underweight in the study area was 87.8%, 89.7%, and 71.2%, respectively, and the mean P. falciparum parasite rate, and rates of S. haematobium infection, hookworm infection, and S. haematobium/hookworm coinfection for the study area were 52.0%, 26.8%, 8.2%, and 3.6%, respectively. The overall results indicate that in the three countries, approximately 6.7 million children aged 1–4 years have anemia. Severe malnutrition, P. falciparum infection, hookworm infection, S. haematobium infection, and hookworm/S. haematobium coinfection were responsible for an estimated 2.5 million, 1.0 million, 250,000, 285,000, and 61,000 anemia cases, respectively. Central Burkina Faso and southern Ghana had the highest number of anemic children.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These results add insight and detail to anemia prevalence and anemia severity within different geographical areas in three West African countries. The combination of anemia and mean hemoglobin predictive maps identifies communities in West Africa where preschool-age children are at increased risk of morbidity. The use of anemia maps has important practical implications for targeted control in these countries, such as guiding the efficient allocation of nutrient supplements and fortified foods, and enabling risk assessment of anemia due to different causes, which would in turn constitute an evidence base to calculate the best balance between interventions.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Abdisalan Noor
The WHO Web site has comprehensive information on the worldwide prevalence of anemia
More information on Demographic Health Surveys is available
More information on global predictions of malaria is available
PMCID: PMC3110251  PMID: 21687688
3.  Plasmodium falciparum and helminth co-infection in a semi-urban population of pregnant women in Uganda 
The Journal of infectious diseases  2008;198(6):920-927.
Helminth infections and malaria are widespread in the tropics. Recent studies suggest helminth infections may increase susceptibility to malaria. If confirmed, this could be particularly important during pregnancy-induced immunosuppression.
To evaluate the geographical distribution of Plasmodium falciparum-helminth co-infection, and associations between parasite species in pregnant women in Entebbe, Uganda.
A cross-sectional study was conducted at baseline in a trial of anti-helminthics during pregnancy. Helminth and P.falciparum infections were quantified in 2507 asymptomatic women; socio-demographic and geographical details were recorded.
Hookworm and Mansonella perstans were associated with P.falciparum but the effect of hookworm was seen only in the absence of M.perstans (OR for P.falciparum, adjusted for age, tribe, socioeconomic status, HIV and location: hookworm without M.perstans 1.53 (95% CI 1.09-2.14); M.perstans without hookworm 2.33 (1.47-3.69), both hookworm and M.perstans, 1.85 (1.24-2.76)). No association was observed between Schistosoma mansoni, Trichuris or Strongyloides and P.falciparum.
Hookworm-P.falciparum and M.perstans-P.falciparum co-infection amongst pregnant women in Entebbe is more common than expected by chance. Further studies are needed to elucidate the mechanism of this association. Helminth-induced increased susceptibility to P.falciparum could have important consequences for pregnancy outcome and responses to malaria in infancy.
PMCID: PMC2886962  PMID: 18721060
Malaria; Helminth; Hookworm; Mansonella perstans; Plasmodium falciparum; Co-Infection; Spatial; Geographic Factors; Pregnancy; Uganda
4.  Complex Interactions between Soil-Transmitted Helminths and Malaria in Pregnant Women on the Thai-Burmese Border 
Deworming is recommended by the WHO in girls and pregnant and lactating women to reduce anaemia in areas where hookworm and anaemia are common. There is conflicting evidence on the harm and the benefits of intestinal geohelminth infections on the incidence and severity of malaria, and consequently on the risks and benefits of deworming in malaria affected populations. We examined the association between geohelminths and malaria in pregnancy on the Thai-Burmese border.
Routine antenatal care (ANC) included active detection of malaria (weekly blood smear) and anaemia (second weekly haematocrit) and systematic reporting of birth outcomes. In 1996 stool samples were collected in cross sectional surveys from women attending the ANCs. This was repeated in 2007 when malaria incidence had reduced considerably. The relationship between geohelminth infection and the progress and outcome of pregnancy was assessed.
Principal Findings
Stool sample examination (339 in 1996, 490 in 2007) detected a high prevalence of geohelminths 70% (578/829), including hookworm (42.8% (355)), A. lumbricoides (34.4% (285)) and T.trichuria (31.4% (250)) alone or in combination. A lower proportion of women (829) had mild (21.8% (181)) or severe (0.2% (2)) anaemia, or malaria 22.4% (186) (P.vivax monoinfection 53.3% (101/186)). A. lumbricoides infection was associated with a significantly decreased risk of malaria (any species) (AOR: 0.43, 95% CI: 0.23–0.84) and P.vivax malaria (AOR: 0.29, 95% CI: 0.11–0.79) whereas hookworm infection was associated with an increased risk of malaria (any species) (AOR: 1.66, 95% CI: 1.06–2.60) and anaemia (AOR: 2.41, 95% CI: 1.18–4.93). Hookworm was also associated with low birth weight (AOR: 1.81, 95% CI: 1.02–3.23).
A. lumbricoides and hookworm appear to have contrary associations with malaria in pregnancy.
Author Summary
Intestinal worms, particularly hookworm and whipworm, can cause anaemia, which is harmful for pregnant women. The WHO recommends deworming in pregnancy in areas where hookworm infections are frequent. Some studies indicate that coinfection with worms and malaria adversely affects pregnancy whereas other studies have shown that coinfection with worms might reduce the severity of malaria. On the Thai-Burmese border malaria in pregnancy has been an important cause of maternal death. We examined the relationship between intestinal helminth infections in pregnant women and their malaria risk in our antenatal care units. In total 70% of pregnant women had worm infections, mostly hookworm, but also roundworm and whipworm; hookworm was associated with mild anaemia although ova counts were not high. Women infected with hookworm had more malaria and their babies had a lower birth weight than women without hookworm. In contrast women with roundworm infections had the lowest rates of malaria in pregnancy. Deworming eliminates all worms. In this area it is unclear whether mass deworming would be beneficial.
PMCID: PMC2982827  PMID: 21103367
5.  Effects of Deworming during Pregnancy on Maternal and Perinatal Outcomes in Entebbe, Uganda: A Randomized Controlled Trial 
Helminth infections during pregnancy may be associated with adverse outcomes, including maternal anemia, low birth weight, and perinatal mortality. Deworming during pregnancy has therefore been strongly advocated, but its benefits have not been rigorously evaluated.
In Entebbe, Uganda, 2507 pregnant women were recruited to a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial investigating albendazole and praziquantel in a 2 × 2 factorial design [ISRCTN32849447]. Hematinics and sulphadoxine-pyrimethamine for presumptive treatment of malaria were provided routinely. Maternal and perinatal outcomes were recorded. Analyses were by intention to treat.
At enrollment, 68% of women had helminths, 45% had hookworm, 18% had Schistosoma mansoni infection; 40% were anemic (hemoglobin level, <11.2 g/dL). At delivery, 35% were anaemic; there was no overall effect of albendazole (odds ratio [OR], 0.95; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.79–1.15) or praziquantel (OR, 1.00; 95% CI, 0.83–1.21) on maternal anemia, but there was a suggestion of benefit of albendazole among women with moderate to heavy hookworm (OR, 0.45; 95% CI, 0.21–0.98; P = .15 for interaction). There was no effect of either anthelminthic treatment on mean birth weight (difference in mean associated with albendazole: −0.00 kg; 95% CI, −0.05 to 0.04 kg; difference in mean associated with praziquantel: −0.01 kg; 95% CI, −0.05 to 0.04 kg) or on proportion of low birth weight. Anthelminthic use during pregnancy showed no effect on perinatal mortality or congenital anomalies.
In our study area, where helminth prevalence was high but infection intensity was low, there was no overall effect of anthelminthic use during pregnancy on maternal anemia, birth weight, perinatal mortality, or congenital anomalies. The possible benefit of albendazole against anemia in pregnant women with heavy hookworm infection warrants further investigation.
PMCID: PMC2857962  PMID: 20067426
6.  Impact of Anthelminthic Treatment in Pregnancy and Childhood on Immunisations, Infections and Eczema in Childhood: A Randomised Controlled Trial 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e50325.
Helminth infections may modulate immune responses to unrelated pathogens and allergens; these effects may commence prenatally. We addressed the hypothesis that anthelminthic treatment in pregnancy and early childhood would improve responses to immunisation and modulate disease incidence in early childhood with both beneficial and detrimental effects.
Methods and Findings
A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted in Entebbe, Uganda [ISRCTN32849447]. In three independent randomisations, 2507 pregnant women were allocated to receive single-dose albendazole or placebo, and praziquantel or placebo; 2016 of their offspring were randomised to receive quarterly single-dose albendazole or placebo from age 15 months to 5 years. Primary outcomes were post-immunisation recall responses to BCG and tetanus antigens, and incidence of malaria, diarrhoea, and pneumonia; incidence of eczema was an important secondary outcome. Analysis was by intention-to-treat. Of 2345 live births, 1622 (69%) children remained in follow-up at age 5 years. 68% of mothers at enrolment, and 11% of five-year-olds, had helminth infections. Maternal hookworm and Schistosoma mansoni were effectively treated by albendazole and praziquantel, respectively; and childhood hookworm and Ascaris by quarterly albendazole. Incidence rates of malaria, diarrhoea, pneumonia, and eczema were 34, 65, 10 and 5 per 100 py, respectively. Albendazole during pregnancy caused an increased rate of eczema in the children (HR 1.58 (95% CI 1.15–2.17), p = 0.005). Quarterly albendazole during childhood was associated with reduced incidence of clinical malaria (HR 0.85 (95% CI 0.73–0.98), p = 0.03). There were no consistent effects of the interventions on any other outcome.
Routine use of albendazole in pregnancy may not always be beneficial, even in tropical developing countries. By contrast, regular albendazole treatment in preschool children may have an additional benefit for malaria control where helminths and malaria are co-endemic. Given the low helminth prevalence in our children, the effect of albendazole on malaria is likely to be direct.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN32849447
PMCID: PMC3517620  PMID: 23236367
7.  Helminth-Associated Systemic Immune Activation and HIV Co-receptor Expression: Response to Albendazole/Praziquantel Treatment 
It has been hypothesized that helminth infections increase HIV susceptibility by enhancing systemic immune activation and hence contribute to elevated HIV-1 transmission in sub-Saharan Africa.
To study systemic immune activation and HIV-1 co-receptor expression in relation to different helminth infections and in response to helminth treatment.
HIV-negative adults with (n = 189) or without (n = 57) different helminth infections, as diagnosed by Kato-Katz, were enrolled in Mbeya, Tanzania. Blinded to helminth infection status, T cell differentiation (CD45RO, CD27), activation (HLA-DR, CD38) and CCR5 expression was determined at baseline and 3 months after Albendazole/Praziquantel treatment. Plasma cytokine levels were compared using a cytometric bead array.
Trichuris and Ascaris infections were linked to increased frequencies of “activated” CD4 and/or CD8 T cells (p<0.05), whereas Hookworm infection was associated with a trend towards decreased HLA-DR+ CD8 T cell frequencies (p = 0.222). In Trichuris infected subjects, there was a linear correlation between HLA-DR+ CD4 T cell frequencies and the cytokines IL-1β and IL-10 (p<0.05). Helminth treatment with Albendazole and Praziquantel significantly decreased eosinophilia for S. mansoni and Hookworm infections (p<0.005) but not for Trichuris infection and only moderately modulated T cell activation. CCR5 surface density on memory CD4 T cells was increased by 1.2-fold during Trichuris infection (p-value: 0.053) and reduced after treatment (p = 0.003).
Increased expression of T cell activation markers was associated with Trichuris and Ascaris infections with relatively little effect of helminth treatment.
Author Summary
Helminth infections are common in sub-Saharan Africa where about half of the population may be infected with one or more helminth species. HIV infection is also highly prevalent in this region. Because of the geographic overlap of helminth and HIV infections, it has been hypothesized that helminth infections may increase susceptibility to HIV by increasing systemic immune activation, which has been linked to increased HIV susceptibility. We therefore investigated the profile of T cell activation in individuals infected with different helminth species before and after helminth treatment within the WHIS cohort in Mbeya, Tanzania. Our study shows that systemic T cell activation differs between infections with different helminths. Particularly Trichuris but also Ascaris and S. mansoni infections were linked to increased frequencies of activated, HLA-DR+ T cells with relatively little effect of helminth treatment. Hookworm infection was associated with a trend towards decreased frequencies of activated, HLA-DR+ CD8+ T cells. Our study supports the concept that helminth infections, which are linked to systemic immune activation, could potentially also contribute to increased HIV transmission.
PMCID: PMC3967945  PMID: 24675895
8.  Factors affecting the infant antibody response to measles immunisation in Entebbe-Uganda 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:619.
Vaccine failure is an important concern in the tropics with many contributing elements. Among them, it has been suggested that exposure to natural infections might contribute to vaccine failure and recurrent disease outbreaks. We tested this hypothesis by examining the influence of co-infections on maternal and infant measles-specific IgG levels.
We conducted an observational analysis using samples and data that had been collected during a larger randomised controlled trial, the Entebbe Mother and Baby Study (ISRCTN32849447). For the present study, 711 pregnant women and their offspring were considered. Helminth infections including hookworm, Schistosoma mansoni and Mansonella perstans, along with HIV, malaria, and other potential confounding factors were determined in mothers during pregnancy and in their infants at age one year. Infants received their measles immunisation at age nine months. Levels of total IgG against measles were measured in mothers during pregnancy and at delivery, as well as in cord blood and from infants at age one year.
Among the 711 pregnant women studied, 66% had at least one helminth infection at enrolment, 41% had hookworm, 20% M. perstans and 19% S. mansoni. Asymptomatic malaria and HIV prevalence was 8% and 10% respectively. At enrolment, 96% of the women had measles-specific IgG levels considered protective (median 4274 mIU/ml (IQR 1784, 7767)). IgG levels in cord blood were positively correlated to maternal measles-specific IgG levels at delivery (r = 0.81, p < 0.0001). Among the infants at one year of age, median measles-specific IgG levels were markedly lower than in maternal and cord blood (median 370 mIU/ml (IQR 198, 656) p < 0.0001). In addition, only 75% of the infants had measles-specific IgG levels considered to be protective. In a multivariate regression analysis, factors associated with reduced measles-specific antibody levels in infancy were maternal malaria infection, infant malaria parasitaemia, infant HIV and infant wasting. There was no association with maternal helminth infection.
Malaria and HIV infection in mothers during pregnancy, and in their infants, along with infant malnutrition, may result in reduction of the antibody response to measles immunisation in infancy. This re-emphasises the importance of malaria and HIV control, and support for infant nutrition, as these interventions may have benefits for vaccine efficacy in tropical settings.
PMCID: PMC3733798  PMID: 23816281
Infections; Co-infections; Measles; Helminth; Malaria; HIV; Maternal; Infants; Pregnancy; Immunisation
9.  Anaemia and associated risk factors among pregnant women in Gilgel Gibe dam area, Southwest Ethiopia 
Parasites & Vectors  2012;5:296.
Anaemia is known to be one of the outcomes of parasitic infection and it may result in impaired cognitive development, reduced physical work capacity and in severe cases increased risk of mortality, particularly during the prenatal period. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence and associated risk factors of anaemia among pregnant women in Gilgel-Gibe dam area, southwestern Ethiopia.
A cross-sectional community based study was conducted on 388 pregnant women living in three districts around Gilgel Gibe Dam area, southwestern Ethiopia. Socio-demographic and socio-economic data were collected from each participant. A single stool sample was also collected from each selected pregnant woman. Haemoglobin concentration was determined by the cyanmethemoglobin method. Plasmodium infection prevalence and intensity were assessed with thin and thick blood film examination.
Of the total 388 study participants, 209 (53.9%) were anaemic. Pregnant woman who were rural residents (Adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 1.62, 95% C.I: 1.02-2.62, P= 0.042), not using insecticide treated nets (ITNs) during the study period (AOR = 2.84, 95% C.I: 1.33-6.05, p = 0.007), those who were Plasmodium malaria infected (AOR = 11.19, 95% C.I: 3.31-37.7, p= 0.01) and those with Soil Transmitted Helminth (STH) infections (AOR=1.82, 95% C.I: 1.16-2.87, p=0.001) had higher odds of being anaemic than those who were urban residents, using ITNs, free of Plasmodium malaria and Soil transmitted helminth infection, respectively. There was a significant correlation between increasing hookworm parasite load (r = −.110, P< 0.001), Ascaris lumbricoides (r = −.122, P < 0.001) and Trichuris trichiura (r = −.025, P < 0.001) and decreasing hematocrit values.
The high prevalence of anaemia indicates it is currently a serious health problem of pregnant women living in Gilgel Gibe Dam area. Plasmodium malaria and soil transmitted helminth infections were significantly associated with anaemia. Antenatal care should promote de-worming and education on personal hygiene. Therefore, there is a need to design strategies that help to diagnose pregnant women for malaria and STH infections during their antenatal care (ANC) visit instead of testing for only haemoglobin (Hgb) levels and blood group.
PMCID: PMC3533966  PMID: 23244514
Co- infection; Pregnant women; Soil Transmitted Helminths; Anaemia; Malaria; Ethiopia
10.  Effect of Sanitation on Soil-Transmitted Helminth Infection: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(1):e1001162.
A systematic review and meta-analysis by Kathrin Ziegelbauer and colleagues finds that sanitation is associated with a reduced risk of transmission of helminthiases to humans.
In countries of high endemicity of the soil-transmitted helminth parasites Ascaris lumbricoides, Trichuris trichiura, and hookworm, preventive chemotherapy (i.e., repeated administration of anthelmintic drugs to at-risk populations) is the main strategy to control morbidity. However, rapid reinfection of humans occurs after successful deworming, and therefore effective preventive measures are required to achieve public health goals with optimal efficiency and sustainability.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to assess the effect of sanitation (i.e., access and use of facilities for the safe disposal of human urine and feces) on infection with soil-transmitted helminths. PubMed, Embase, ISI Web of Science, and the World Health Organization Library Database were searched without language restrictions and year of publication (search performed until December 31, 2010). Bibliographies of identified articles were hand-searched. All types of studies reporting data on sanitation availability (i.e., having access at own household or living in close proximity to sanitation facility), or usage, and soil-transmitted helminth infections at the individual level were considered. Reported odds ratios (ORs) of the protective effect of sanitation on soil-transmitted helminth infections were extracted from the papers or calculated from reported numbers. The quality of published studies was assessed with a panel of criteria developed by the authors. Random effects meta-analyses were used to account for observed heterogeneity. Thirty-six publications, consisting of 39 datasets, met our inclusion criteria. Availability of sanitation facilities was associated with significant protection against infection with soil-transmitted helminths (OR  =  0.46 to 0.58). Regarding the use of sanitation, ORs of 0.54 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.28–1.02), 0.63 (95% CI 0.37–1.05), and 0.78 (95% CI 0.60–1.00) were determined for T. trichiura, hookworm, and A. lumbricoides, respectively. The overall ORs, combining sanitation availability and use, were 0.51 (95% CI 0.44–0.61) for the three soil-transmitted helminths combined, 0.54 (95% CI 0.43–0.69) for A. lumbricoides, 0.58 (95% CI 0.45–0.75) for T. trichiura, and 0.60 (95% CI 0.48–0.75) for hookworm.
Despite a number of limitations (e.g., most studies used a cross-sectional design and were of low quality, with potential biases and considerable heterogeneity), our results reveal that sanitation is associated with a reduced risk of transmission of helminthiases to humans. Access to improved sanitation should be prioritized alongside preventive chemotherapy and health education to achieve a durable reduction of the burden of helminthiases.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Worldwide, more than a billion people are infected with soil-transmitted helminths, parasitic worms that live in the human intestine (gut). Roundworm, whipworm, and hookworm infections mainly occur in tropical and subtropical regions and are most common in developing countries, where personal hygiene is poor, there is insufficient access to clean water, and sanitation (disposal of human feces and urine) is inadequate or absent. Because infected individuals excrete helminth eggs in their feces, in regions where people regularly defecate in the open, the soil becomes contaminated with eggs. People pick up roundworm or whipworm infections when they ingest these eggs after they have matured in the environment by eating raw, unwashed vegetables or by not washing their hands after handling contaminated soil (a common transmission route for children). In the case of hookworm, the immature, infective stages of the worms, which hatch in the soil, can penetrate human skin, and people usually become infected by walking barefoot on contaminated soil. Mild infections with soil-transmitted helminths rarely have symptoms, but severe infections can cause abdominal pain and diarrhea, weakness, and malnutrition that can impair physical and mental development. Many soil-transmitted helminth infections can be safely and effectively treated with anthelmintic drugs, but there is rapid reinfection after successful treatment.
Why Was This Study Done?
In 2001, the World Health Organization endorsed preventative chemotherapy as the global strategy to control soil-transmitted helminthiasis. The key component of this strategy is regular administration of anthelmintic drugs to at-risk groups—children, women of childbearing age, and adults in high-risk occupations such as nightsoil reuse and farming. Although this strategy reduces illness caused by soil-transmitted helminths, it does not prevent rapid reinfection. To interrupt transmission and to achieve local elimination of helminthiasis, integrated control approaches that include access to sanitation and other complementary interventions of a primary prevention nature are needed. In this systematic review and meta-analysis, the researchers investigate whether the availability and/or use of sanitation facilities (latrines or toilets) lowers the risk of soil-transmitted helminth infections. A systematic review uses predefined criteria to identify all the research on a given topic; a meta-analysis is a statistical method that combines the results of several studies.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 36 publications that included data on sanitation availability and/or use and the number of people in the study population infected with one or more of three types of soil-transmitted helminths. Meta-analysis of the data from these publications indicates that, compared to people with no access to sanitation facilities, people with access to sanitation facilities were half as likely to be infected with soil-transmitted helminths. Specifically, the odds ratios (ORs; chances) of infection with soil-transmitted helminths among people with access to latrines compared to people without access to latrines were 0.46, 0.56, and 0.58 for roundworm, whipworm, and hookworm, respectively; for all three helminths combined, the OR was 0.49. Use of (as opposed to access to) sanitation facilities also protected against soil-transmitted helminth infection (ORs of 0.78, 0.54, and 0.63 for roundworm, whipworm, and hookworm infections, respectively). Finally, combining the data for both access and use, people who either had or used a latrine were half as likely to be infected with a soil-transmitted helminth as people who neither had or used a latrine (OR 0.51).
What Do These Findings Mean?
The studies included in this systematic review and meta-analysis have several shortcomings. For example, most were cross-sectional surveys—studies that examined the effect of the availability/use of sanitation on helminth infections in a population at a single time point. Given this study design, people who had latrines may have shared other characteristics that were actually responsible for the observed reductions in the risk of soil-transmitted helminth infections. Moreover, the data on latrine availability and use was derived from questionnaires and may, therefore, be inaccurate because people are often ashamed to admit that they defecate outside. Finally, the overall quality of the included studies was low. Nevertheless, these findings confirm that providing access to, and promoting use of, sanitation facilities is an effective control measure for soil-transmitted helminthiasis. Thus, there should be more emphasis on expanding access to adequate sanitation in control strategies for soil-transmitted helminths. This change in emphasis would reinforce the effects of preventative chemotherapy and ongoing health education on helminthiasis, in an economic, sustainability, and public health sense. Importantly, it would also improve the control of other neglected tropical diseases such as schistosomiasis and trachoma and would reduce the incidence of diarrhea, and thus child mortality, in developing countries.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease provides information on infections caused by soil-transmitted helminths
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also provides detailed information on roundworm, whipworm, and hookworm infections
The World Health Organization provides information on soil-transmitted helminths, including a description of the current control strategy; the Partners for Parasite Control newsletter Action Against Worms focuses on specific areas of worm control; a teacher's resource book entitled A Lively and Healthy Me that deals with educating children about worm infections is also available
The Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases, an advocacy initiative dedicated to raising the awareness, political will, and funding necessary to control and eliminate the most common neglected tropical diseases, provides information on infections with roundworm (ascariasis), whipworm (trichuriasis), and hookworm
Two international programs promoting water sanitation are the World Health Organization Water Sanitation and Health program and the World Health Organization/United Nations Childrens Fund Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation
The Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council and Practical Action have information about approaches and technologies for sanitation
PMCID: PMC3265535  PMID: 22291577
11.  The effect of anthelminthic treatment during pregnancy on HIV plasma viral load; results from a randomised, double blinded, placebo-controlled trial in Uganda 
To investigate the effect of helminth infections and their treatment during pregnancy on HIV load, we conducted a 2×2 factorial randomised controlled trial of albendazole versus placebo and praziquantel versus placebo in pregnant women in Entebbe, Uganda
Two hundred and sixty-four HIV-infected women from the Entebbe Mother and Baby Study (ISRCTN32849447) were included in this analysis. Women were tested for helminth infections at enrolment and mean HIV load was compared between infected and uninfected groups. The effect of anthelminthic treatment on HIV load was evaluated at six weeks post-treatment and at delivery using linear regression and adjusting for enrolment viral load.
Hookworm and Trichuris infections were associated with higher mean viral load at enrolment (adjusted mean difference 0.24log10 copies/ml, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.01 to 0.47, p=0.03 and 0.37log10 copies/ml, 95%CI: 0.00 to 0.74, p=0.05, respectively). There were no associations between viral load and other helminth species. There was some evidence that albendazole reduced viral load at six weeks post-treatment (adjusted mean difference −0.17, 95% CI: −0.36 to 0.01, p=0.07), however this effect did not differ according to mother’s hookworm infection status and had diminished at delivery (adjusted mean difference −0.11, 95% CI: −0.28 to 0.07, p=0.23). There was no effect of praziquantel treatment on HIV load at any time point.
Infection with some soil-transmitted helminth species is associated with increased HIV load in pregnancy. Treatment with albendazole causes a small decrease in HIV load, however this may not represent a direct effect of worm removal.
PMCID: PMC3383620  PMID: 22728750
HIV; viral load; helminths; anthelminthic treatment; clinical trial
12.  Effect of single-dose anthelmintic treatment during pregnancy on an infant's response to immunisation and on susceptibility to infectious diseases in infancy: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial 
Lancet  2011;377(9759):52-62.
Helminth infections affect the human immune response. We investigated whether prenatal exposure to and treatment of maternal helminth infections affects development of an infant's immune response to immunisations and unrelated infections.
In this randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, we enrolled 2507 women in the second or third trimester of pregnancy who were planning to deliver in Entebbe General Hospital, Entebbe, Uganda. With a computer-generated random number sequence in blocks of 100, we assigned patients to 440 mg albendazole and 40 mg/kg praziquantel (n=628), 440 mg albendazole and a praziquantel-matching placebo (n=625), 40 mg/kg praziquantel and an albendazole-matching placebo (n=626), or an albendazole-matching placebo and praziquantel-matching placebo (n=628). All participants and hospital staff were masked to allocation. Primary outcomes were immune response at age 1 year to BCG, tetanus, and measles immunisation; incidence of infectious diseases during infancy; and vertical HIV transmission. Analysis was by intention-to-treat. This trial is registered, number ISRCTN32849447.
Data were available at delivery for 2356 women, with 2345 livebirths; 2115 (90%) of liveborn infants remained in follow-up at 1 year of age. Neither albendazole nor praziquantel treatments affected infant response to BCG, tetanus, or measles immunisation. However, in infants of mothers with hookworm infection, albendazole treatment reduced interleukin-5 (geometric mean ratio 0·50, 95% CI 0·30–0·81, interaction p=0·02) and interleukin-13 (0·52, 0·34–0·82, 0·0005) response to tetanus toxoid. The rate per 100 person-years of malaria was 40·9 (95% CI 38·3–43·7), of diarrhoea was 134·1 (129·2–139·2), and of pneumonia was 22·3 (20·4–24·4). We noted no effect on infectious disease incidence for albendazole treatment (malaria [hazard ratio 0·95, 95% CI 0·79–1.14], diarrhoea [1·06, 0·96–1·16], pneumonia [1·11, 0·90–1·38]) or praziquantel treatment (malaria [1·00, 0·84–1·20], diarrhoea [1·07, 0·98–1·18], pneumonia [1·00, 0·80–1·24]). In HIV-exposed infants, 39 (18%) were infected at 6 weeks; vertical transmission was not associated with albendazole (odds ratio 0·70, 95% CI 0·35–1·42) or praziquantel (0·60, 0·29–1·23) treatment.
These results do not accord with the recently advocated policy of routine antenatal anthelmintic treatment, and the value of such a policy may need to be reviewed.
Wellcome Trust.
PMCID: PMC3018567  PMID: 21176950
13.  The Synergistic Effect of Concomitant Schistosomiasis, Hookworm, and Trichuris Infections on Children's Anemia Burden 
To estimate the degree of synergism between helminth species in their combined effects on anemia.
Quantitative egg counts using the Kato–Katz method were determined for Ascaris lumbricoides, hookworm, Trichuris trichiura, and Schistosoma japonicum in 507 school-age children from helminth-endemic villages in The Philippines. Infection intensity was defined in three categories: uninfected, low, or moderate/high (M+). Anemia was defined as hemoglobin <11 g/dL. Logistic regression models were used to estimate odds ratios (OR), 95% confidence intervals (CI), and synergy index for pairs of concurrent infections.
M+ co-infection of hookworm and S. japonicum (OR = 13.2, 95% CI: 3.82–45.5) and of hookworm and T. trichiura (OR = 5.34, 95% CI: 1.76–16.2) were associated with higher odds of anemia relative to children without respective M+ co-infections. For co-infections of hookworm and S. japonicum and of T. trichiura and hookworm, the estimated indices of synergy were 2.9 (95% CI: 1.1–4.6) and 1.4 (95% CI: 0.9–2.0), respectively.
Co-infections of hookworm and either S. japonicum or T. trichiura were associated with higher levels of anemia than would be expected if the effects of these species had only independent effects on anemia. This suggests that integrated anti-helminthic treatment programs with simultaneous deworming for S. japonicum and some geohelminths could yield a greater than additive benefit for reducing anemia in helminth-endemic regions.
Author Summary
Polyparasitic infections have been recognized as the norm in many tropical developing countries, but the significance of this phenomenon for helminth-associated morbidities is largely unexplored. Earlier studies have suggested that multi-species, low-intensity parasitic infections were associated with higher odds of anemia among school-age children relative to their uninfected counterparts or those with one low-intensity infection. However, specific studies of the nature of interactions between helminth species in the mediation of helminth-associated morbidities are lacking. This study quantifies the extent to which polyparasitic infections have more than the sum of adverse effects associated with individual infections in the context of childhood anemia. This study found that the risk of anemia is amplified beyond the sum of risks for individual infections in children simultaneously exposed to 1) hookworm and schistosomiasis, and 2) hookworm and trichuris, and suggests that combined treatment for some geohelminth species and schistosomiasis could yield greater than additive benefits for the reduction of childhood anemia in helminth-endemic areas. However, more studies to understand the full range of interactions between parasitic species in their joint effects on helminth-associated morbidities will be necessary to better predict the impact of any future public health intervention.
PMCID: PMC2390851  PMID: 18523547
14.  Hookworm-Related Anaemia among Pregnant Women: A Systematic Review 
Background and Objectives
Hookworm infection is among the major causes of anaemia in poor communities, but its importance in causing maternal anaemia is poorly understood, and this has hampered effective lobbying for the inclusion of anthelmintic treatment in maternal health packages. We sought to review existing evidence on the role of hookworm as a risk factor for anaemia among pregnant women. We also estimate the number of hookworm infections in pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).
Structured searches using MEDLINE and EMBASE as well as manual searches of reference lists were conducted, and unpublished data were obtained by contacting authors. Papers were independently reviewed by two authors, and relevant data were extracted. We compared haemoglobin concentration (Hb) according to intensity of hookworm infection and calculated standardised mean differences and 95% confidence intervals. To estimate the number of pregnant women, we used population surfaces and a spatial model of hookworm prevalence.
One hundred and five reports were screened and 19 were eligible for inclusion: 13 cross-sectional studies, 2 randomised controlled trials, 2 non-randomised treatment trials and 2 observational studies. Comparing uninfected women and women lightly (1–1,999 eggs/gram [epg]) infected with hookworm, the standardised mean difference (SMD) was −0.24 (95% CI: −0.36 to −0.13). The SMD between women heavily (4000+ epg) infected and those lightly infected was −0.57 (95% CI: −0.87 to −0.26). All identified intervention studies showed a benefit of deworming for maternal or child health, but since a variety of outcomes measures were employed, quantitative evaluation was not possible. We estimate that 37.7 million women of reproductive age in SSA are infected with hookworm in 2005 and that approximately 6.9 million pregnant women are infected.
Evidence indicates that increasing hookworm infection intensity is associated with lower haemoglobin levels in pregnant women in poor countries. There are insufficient data to quantify the benefits of deworming, and further studies are warranted. Given that between a quarter and a third of pregnant women in SSA are infected with hookworm and at risk of preventable hookworm-related anaemia, efforts should be made to increase the coverage of anthelmintic treatment among pregnant women.
Author Summary
Anaemia affects large numbers of pregnant women in developing countries and increases their risk of dying during pregnancy and delivering low birth weight babies, who in turn are at increased risk of dying. Human hookworm infection has long been recognized among the major causes of anaemia in poor communities, but understanding of the benefits of the management of hookworm infection in pregnancy has lagged behind the other major causes of maternal anaemia. Low coverage of anthelmintic treatment in maternal health programmes in many countries has been the result. After systematically reviewing the available literature we observed that increasing hookworm infection intensity is associated with lower haemoglobin levels in pregnant women. We also estimate that between a quarter and a third of pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa are infected with hookworm and at risk of preventable hookworm-related anaemia. However, all identified intervention studies showed a benefit of deworming for maternal or child health and we argue that increased efforts should be made to increase the coverage of anthelmintic treatment among pregnant women.
PMCID: PMC2553481  PMID: 18820740
15.  Prevalence and Correlates of Helminth Co-infection in Kenyan HIV-1 Infected Adults 
Deworming HIV-1 infected individuals may delay HIV-1 disease progression. It is important to determine the prevalence and correlates of HIV-1/helminth co-infection in helminth-endemic areas.
HIV-1 infected individuals (CD4>250 cells/ul) were screened for helminth infection at ten sites in Kenya. Prevalence and correlates of helminth infection were determined. A subset of individuals with soil-transmitted helminth infection was re-evaluated 12 weeks following albendazole therapy.
Of 1,541 HIV-1 seropositive individuals screened, 298 (19.3%) had detectable helminth infections. Among individuals with helminth infection, hookworm species were the most prevalent (56.3%), followed by Ascaris lumbricoides (17.1%), Trichuris trichiura (8.7%), Schistosoma mansoni (7.1%), and Stongyloides stercoralis (1.3%). Infection with multiple species occurred in 9.4% of infections. After CD4 count was controlled for, rural residence (RR 1.40, 95% CI: 1.08–1.81), having no education (RR 1.57, 95% CI: 1.07–2.30), and higher CD4 count (RR 1.36, 95% CI: 1.07–1.73) remained independently associated with risk of helminth infection. Twelve weeks following treatment with albendazole, 32% of helminth-infected individuals had detectable helminths on examination. Residence, education, and CD4 count were not associated with persistent helminth infection.
Among HIV-1 seropositive adults with CD4 counts above 250 cells/mm3 in Kenya, traditional risk factors for helminth infection, including rural residence and lack of education, were associated with co-infection, while lower CD4 counts were not.
Trial Registration NCT00130910
Author Summary
Over one-third of people worldwide are currently infected with parasitic worms. The majority of these infections occur in sub-Saharan Africa, where over half of the population may be infected with at least one type of parasitic worm. HIV infection is also common in many of these countries, and there is significant geographic overlap in the presence of HIV and worm infection. Several studies have suggested that treatment of worm infections in people with HIV may delay the progression of HIV disease. Treatment has been shown to both decrease levels of the HIV virus in the blood of people with HIV and to increase the number of immune cells (CD4 cells) targeted by HIV. It is important to determine which populations of HIV-infected individuals are at greatest risk of worm infection in order to develop potential interventions for the treatment and prevention of worm infection in HIV-infected individuals. We report findings from a large study examining the prevalence and associated co-factors for worm infection among individuals at ten sites in Kenya.
PMCID: PMC2846937  PMID: 20361031
16.  Patterns and Risk Factors of Helminthiasis and Anemia in a Rural and a Peri-urban Community in Zanzibar, in the Context of Helminth Control Programs 
The control of helminth infections and prevention of anemia in developing countries are of considerable public health importance. The purpose of this study was to determine patterns and risk factors of helminth infections and anemia in a rural and a peri-urban community of Zanzibar, Tanzania, in the context of national helminth control programs.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We carried out a community-based cross-sectional study in 454 individuals by examining at least two stool samples with different methods for soil-transmitted helminths (Ascaris lumbricoides, hookworm, Strongyloides stercoralis, and Trichuris trichiura) and one urine sample for Schistosoma haematobium. Finger-prick blood was taken to estimate anemia levels and to detect antibody reactions against ascariasis, strongyloidiasis and schistosomiasis, using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) approach. Parasitological methods determined a helminth prevalence of 73.7% in the rural, and 48.9% in the peri-urban setting. Most helminth infections were of light intensity with school-aged children showing the highest intensities. Multiple helminth species infections were pervasive in rural dwellers regardless of age. More than half of the participants were anemic, with a particularly high prevalence in the peri-urban setting (64.7%). Risk factors for helminth infections were age, sex, consumption of raw vegetables or salad, recent travel history, and socio-economic status.
After several years of chemotherapy-based morbidity control efforts in Zanzibar, helminth prevalences are still high and anemia is common, but helminth infection intensities are low. Hence, chemotherapy should be continued, and complemented with improved access to clean water, adequate sanitation, and health education, along with poverty alleviation measures for a more enduring impact.
Author Summary
In many parts of the developing world, parasitic worms and anemia are of considerable public health and economic importance. We studied the patterns and risk factors of parasitic worm infections in a rural and a peri-urban community on Zanzibar Island, Tanzania, in the context of national deworming programs. We invited 658 individuals aged between 5 and 100 years and examined their stool and urine for the presence of parasitic worm eggs. Additionally, we obtained a finger-prick blood sample to estimate the level of anemia and to assess for specific immune reactions against parasitic worm infections. We found that, despite large-scale deworming efforts in Zanzibar over the past 15 years, three-quarter of the rural participants and half of the peri-urban residents were infected with parasitic worms. Every second participant was anemic. Risk factors for a parasitic worm infection were age, sex, consumption of raw vegetables or salad, recent travel history, and socio-economic status. For a sustainable control of parasitic worm infections and prevention of anemia, access to safe and efficacious drugs, complemented with health education and improvements in water supply and adequate sanitation are necessary.
PMCID: PMC2867941  PMID: 20485491
17.  Malaria and related outcomes in patients with intestinal helminths: a cross-sectional study 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2012;12:291.
The effects of helminth co-infection on malaria in humans remain uncertain. This study aimed to evaluate the nature of association of intestinal helminths with prevalence and clinical outcomes of Plasmodium infection.
A cross-sectional study involving 1,065 malaria suspected febrile patients was conducted at Dore Bafeno Health Center, Southern Ethiopia, from December 2010 to February 2011. Plasmodium and intestinal helminth infections were diagnosed using Giemsa-stained blood films and Kato-Katz technique, respectively. Haemoglobin level was determined using a haemocue machine.
Among 1,065 malaria suspected febrile patients, 28.8% were positive for Plasmodium parasites (P. falciparum =13.0%, P. vivax =14.5%, P. falciparum and P. vivax =1.3%). Among 702 patients who provided stool samples, 53.8%, 31.6% and 19.4% were infected with intestinal helminths, Plasmodium alone and with both Plasmodium and intestinal helminths, respectively. The prevalence of infections with Ascaris lumbricoides (A. lumbricoides), Trichuris trichiura (T. trichiura), Schistosoma mansoni (S. mansoni) and hookworm (9.8%) were 35.9%, 15.8%, 11.7% and 9.8%, respectively. Out of the 222 (31.6%) Plasmodium infected cases, 9 (4.1%) had severe malaria. P. falciparum infection was more common in febrile patients infected with A. lumbricoides alone (21.3%), T. trichiura alone (23.1%) and S. mansoni alone (23.1%) compared to those without intestinal helminth infections (9.3%) (p<0.001 for all). Prevalence of non-severe malaria was significantly higher in individuals infected with intestinal helminths than in those who were not infected with intestinal helminths (adjusted OR=1.58, 95% CI=1.13-2.22). The chance of developing non-severe P. falciparum malaria were 2.6, 2.8 and 3.3 times higher in individuals infected with A. lumbricoides alone, T. trichiura alone and S. mansoni alone, respectively, compared to intestinal helminth-free individuals (p<0.05 for all). The odds ratio for being infected with non-severe P. falciparum increased with the number of intestinal helminth species (p<0.001). Mean Plasmodium density among intestinal helminth infected individuals was significantly increased with the number of intestinal helminths species (p=0.027). Individuals who were co-infected with different species of intestinal helminths and Plasmodium showed lower mean haemoglobin concentration than individuals who were infected only with Plasmodium.
Infections with A. lumbricoides, T. trichiura and S. mansoni were positively associated with P. falciparum infection. However, further studies are required to investigate how these helminths could contribute to increased prevalence of P. falciparum infection.
PMCID: PMC3519704  PMID: 23136960
Non-severe malaria; Association; Intestinal helminths; Plasmodium; Co-infections; Ethiopia
18.  Epidemiological and clinical correlates of malaria-helminth co-infections in southern Ethiopia 
Malaria Journal  2013;12:227.
In many areas of the world, including Ethiopia, malaria and helminths are co-endemic, therefore, co-infections are common. However, little is known how concurrent infections affect the epidemiology and/or pathogenesis of each other. Therefore, this study was conducted to assess the effects of intestinal helminth infections on the epidemiology and clinical patterns of malaria in southern Ethiopia where both infections are prevalent.
A cross-sectional study was conducted in 2006 at Wondo Genet Health Center and Bussa Clinic, southern Ethiopia. Consecutive blood film positive malaria patients (N=230) and malaria negative asymptomatic individuals (N=233) were recruited. Malaria parasite detection and quantification was diagnosed using Giemsa-stained thick and thin blood films, respectively. Helminths were detected using direct microscopy and formol-ether concentration techniques. Coarse quantification of helminths ova was made using Kato Katz method.
The over all magnitude of intestinal parasitic infection was high irrespective of malaria infection (67% among malaria positive patients versus 53.1% among malaria non-infected asymptomatic individuals). Trichuris trichiura infection was associated with increased malaria prevalence while increased worm burden of helminths as expressed by egg intensity was associated with increased malaria parasitaemia which could be a potential factor for development of severe malarial infection with the course of the disease. Majority (77%) of the subjects had multiple helminths infection. T. trichiura, Ascaris lumbricoides, Schistosoma mansoni, and hookworm infestation accounted for 64.5, 57.7 %, 28.4%, and 12.2% of the infections, respectively.
Populations in malaria-endemic areas of southern Ethiopia are multi-parasitized with up to four helminths. Mass deworming may be a simple practical approach in endemic areas in reducing the risk of severe malarial attack particularly for those at high risk of both infections.
PMCID: PMC3706225  PMID: 23822192
Malaria; Helminthic infections; Co-infection; Ethiopia
19.  The Association of Parasitic Infections in Pregnancy and Maternal and Fetal Anemia: A Cohort Study in Coastal Kenya 
Relative contribution of these infections on anemia in pregnancy is not certain. While measures to protect pregnant women against malaria have been scaling up, interventions against helminthes have received much less attention. In this study, we determine the relative impact of helminthes and malaria on maternal anemia.
A prospective observational study was conducted in coastal Kenya among a cohort of pregnant women who were recruited at their first antenatal care (ANC) visit and tested for malaria, hookworm, and other parasitic infections and anemia at enrollment. All women enrolled in the study received presumptive treatment with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine, iron and multi-vitamins and women diagnosed with helminthic infections were treated with albendazole. Women delivering a live, term birth, were also tested for maternal anemia, fetal anemia and presence of infection at delivery.
Principal Findings
Of the 706 women studied, at the first ANC visit, 27% had moderate/severe anemia and 71% of women were anemic overall. The infections with highest prevalence were hookworm (24%), urogenital schistosomiasis (17%), trichuria (10%), and malaria (9%). In adjusted and unadjusted analyses, moderate/severe anemia at first ANC visit was associated with the higher intensities of hookworm and P. falciparum microscopy-malaria infections. At delivery, 34% of women had moderate/severe anemia and 18% of infants' cord hemoglobin was consistent with fetal anemia. While none of the maternal infections were significantly associated with fetal anemia, moderate/severe maternal anemia was associated with fetal anemia.
More than one quarter of women receiving standard ANC with IPTp for malaria had moderate/severe anemia in pregnancy and high rates of parasitic infection. Thus, addressing the role of co-infections, such as hookworm, as well as under-nutrition, and their contribution to anemia is needed.
Author Summary
International guidelines recommend routine prevention and treatments which are safe and effective during pregnancy to reduce hookworm, malaria and other infections among pregnant women living in geographic areas where these infections are prevalent. Despite their effectiveness, programs to address common infections such as hookworm, schistosomiasis and malaria during pregnancy have not been widely adopted. Hookworm, malaria and other infections have been associated with anemia in children, but the studies on the impact of these infections on anemia in pregnancy have not been as clear. This study was undertaken to evaluate the prevalence of parasitic infections among women attending antenatal care which provided the nationally recommended malaria preventive treatment program in coastal Kenya. At the first ANC visit, more than 70% of women were anemic, nearly one-fourth had hookworm and about 10% had malaria. Women with high levels of hookworm or malaria infections were at risk of anemia.
PMCID: PMC3937317  PMID: 24587473
20.  Malaria and Helminth Co-Infections in School and Preschool Children: A Cross-Sectional Study in Magu District, North-Western Tanzania 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e86510.
Malaria, schistosomiasis and soil transmitted helminth infections (STH) are important parasitic infections in Sub-Saharan Africa where a significant proportion of people are exposed to co-infections of more than one parasite. In Tanzania, these infections are a major public health problem particularly in school and pre-school children. The current study investigated malaria and helminth co-infections and anaemia in school and pre-school children in Magu district, Tanzania.
School and pre-school children were enrolled in a cross-sectional study. Stool samples were examined for Schistosoma mansoni and STH infections using Kato Katz technique. Urine samples were examined for Schistosoma haematobium using the urine filtration method. Blood samples were examined for malaria parasites and haemoglobin concentrations using the Giemsa stain and Haemoque methods, respectively.
Principal Findings
Out of 1,546 children examined, 1,079 (69.8%) were infected with one or more parasites. Malaria-helminth co-infections were observed in 276 children (60% of all children with P. falciparum infection). Malaria parasites were significantly more prevalent in hookworm infected children than in hookworm free children (p = 0.046). However, this association was non-significant on multivariate logistic regression analysis (OR = 1.320, p = 0.064). Malaria parasite density decreased with increasing infection intensity of S. mansoni and with increasing number of co-infecting helminth species. Anaemia prevalence was 34.4% and was significantly associated with malaria infection, S. haematobium infection and with multiple parasite infections. Whereas S. mansoni infection was a significant predictor of malaria parasite density, P. falciparum and S. haematobium infections were significant predictors of anaemia.
These findings suggest that multiple parasite infections are common in school and pre-school children in Magu district. Concurrent P. falciparum, S. mansoni and S. haematobium infections increase the risk of lower Hb levels and anaemia, which in turn calls for integrated disease control interventions. The associations between malaria and helminth infections detected in this study need further investigation.
PMCID: PMC3906044  PMID: 24489732
21.  Necator americanus and Helminth Co-Infections: Further Down-Modulation of Hookworm-Specific Type 1 Immune Responses 
Helminth co-infection in humans is common in tropical regions of the world where transmission of soil-transmitted helminths such as Ascaris lumbricoides, Trichuris trichiura, and the hookworms Necator americanus and Ancylostoma duodenale as well as other helminths such as Schistosoma mansoni often occur simultaneously.
We investigated whether co-infection with another helminth(s) altered the human immune response to crude antigen extracts from either different stages of N. americanus infection (infective third stage or adult) or different crude antigen extract preparations (adult somatic and adult excretory/secretory). Using these antigens, we compared the cellular and humoral immune responses of individuals mono-infected with hookworm (N. americanus) and individuals co-infected with hookworm and other helminth infections, namely co-infection with either A. lumbricoides, Schistosoma mansoni, or both. Immunological variables were compared between hookworm infection group (mono- versus co-infected) by bootstrap, and principal component analysis (PCA) was used as a data reduction method.
Contrary to several animal studies of helminth co-infection, we found that co-infected individuals had a further downmodulated Th1 cytokine response (e.g., reduced INF-γ), accompanied by a significant increase in the hookworm-specific humoral immune response (e.g. higher levels of IgE or IgG4 to crude antigen extracts) compared with mono- infected individuals. Neither of these changes was associated with a reduction of hookworm infection intensity in helminth co-infected individuals. From the standpoint of hookworm vaccine development, these results are relevant; i.e., the specific immune response to hookworm vaccine antigens might be altered by infection with another helminth.
Author Summary
Parasitic infections in humans are common in tropical regions and under bad housing and sanitation conditions multiple parasitic infections are the rule rather than the exception. For helminth infections, which are thought to affect almost a quarter of the world's population, most common combinations include soil-transmitted helminths, such as hookworm, roundworm, and whipworm, as well as extra-intestinal infections by schistosomes. In order to develop and test a hookworm vaccine in endemic areas, the understanding of the impact of multiple helminth infections (co-infection) on the immune response against hookworm in infected individuals is crucial. The authors report in their article, that several parameters of the cellular (T cell markers, cytokines, chemokines) and humoral immune response (e.g. IgG4 and IgE antibodies) against hookworm are significantly affected or modulated in individuals co-infected with hookworm, roundworm and/or schistosomes. These results imply that the immune response against components of a hookworm vaccine might be altered by previous contact with other helminth species in endemic areas.
PMCID: PMC3167770  PMID: 21909439
22.  Associations Between Maternal Helminth and Malaria Infections in Pregnancy and Clinical Malaria in the Offspring: A Birth Cohort in Entebbe, Uganda 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2013;208(12):2007-2016.
Background. Helminth and malaria coinfections are common in the tropics. We investigated the hypothesis that prenatal exposure to these parasites might influence susceptibility to malaria in childhood.
Methods. In a birth cohort of 2345 mother–child pairs in Uganda, maternal helminth and malaria infection status was determined during pregnancy, and childhood malaria episodes were recorded from birth to age 5 years. We examined associations between maternal infections and malaria in the offspring.
Results. Common maternal infections were hookworm (45%), Mansonella perstans (21%), Schistosoma mansoni (18%), and Plasmodium falciparum (11%). At age 5 years, 69% of the children were still under follow-up. The incidence of malaria was 34 episodes per 100 child-years, and the mean prevalence of asymptomatic malaria at annual visits was 5.4%. Maternal hookworm and M. perstans infections were associated with an increased rate of childhood clinical malaria (adjusted hazard ratio [aHR], 1.24, 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.10–1.41; aHR, 1.20, 95% CI, 1.05–1.38, respectively). S. mansoni infection had no consistent association with childhood malaria.
Conclusions. This is the first report of an association between helminth infections in pregnancy and malaria in the offspring and indicates that helminth infections in pregnancy may increase the burden of childhood malaria morbidity.
PMCID: PMC3836463  PMID: 23904293
malaria; helminths; coinfections; pregnancy; childhood
23.  A significant association between intestinal helminth infection and anaemia burden in children in rural communities of Edo state, Nigeria 
Anaemia is estimated to affect half the school-age children and adolescents in developing countries.
This study aimed to determine the prevalence of anaemia and evaluate the relationship of intestinal helminth infection on the anaemia status of children in the rural communities of Evbuomore, Isiohor, and Ekosodin. in the Ovia North East local government area of Edo State, Nigeria.
Subjects and Methods:
Faecal samples and blood samples were obtained from 316 children aged 1-15 years. Faecal samples were examined using standard parasitological techniques, and anaemia was defined as blood haemoglobin <11 g/dL.
Of the 316 children, 38.6% were anaemic: 75.9% of children in Evbuomore, 42.3% in Isiohor and 26.8% in Ekosodin. The overall parasite prevalence in the three communities were: Ascaris lumbricoides (75.6%), hookworm (16.19%) and Trichuris trichiura (7.3%). Malnutrition was patent; 37.0% of the children were stunted, 19.3% wasted, and 44.0% underweight. There was a statistically significant association between hookworm and Ascaris lumbricoides infection and anaemia (P < .001). Serum ferritin levels were more sensitive than haemoglobin in detecting anemia and were correlated with intestinal helminth infection.
Intestinal helminth infection in a concomitant state of malnutrition is observed in this population. Intervention programmes should be aimed at control of intestinal helminth infection and iron supplementation.
PMCID: PMC3336930  PMID: 22540060
Anaemia; Children; Iron deficiency anaemia; Intestinal helminth infection
24.  Comparing Diagnostic Accuracy of Kato-Katz, Koga Agar Plate, Ether-Concentration, and FLOTAC for Schistosoma mansoni and Soil-Transmitted Helminths 
Infections with schistosomes and soil-transmitted helminths exert a considerable yet underappreciated economic and public health burden on afflicted populations. Accurate diagnosis is crucial for patient management, drug efficacy evaluations, and monitoring of large-scale community-based control programs.
Methods/Principal Findings
The diagnostic accuracy of four copromicroscopic techniques (i.e., Kato-Katz, Koga agar plate, ether-concentration, and FLOTAC) for the detection of Schistosoma mansoni and soil-transmitted helminth eggs was compared using stool samples from 112 school children in Côte d'Ivoire. Combined results of all four methods served as a diagnostic ‘gold’ standard and revealed prevalences of S. mansoni, hookworm, Trichuris trichiura, Strongyloides stercoralis and Ascaris lumbricoides of 83.0%, 55.4%, 40.2%, 33.9% and 28.6%, respectively. A single FLOTAC from stool samples preserved in sodium acetate-acetic acid-formalin for 30 or 83 days showed a higher sensitivity for S. mansoni diagnosis (91.4%) than the ether-concentration method on stool samples preserved for 40 days (85.0%) or triplicate Kato-Katz using fresh stool samples (77.4%). Moreover, a single FLOTAC detected hookworm, A. lumbricoides and T. trichiura infections with a higher sensitivity than any of the other methods used, but resulted in lower egg counts. The Koga agar plate method was the most accurate diagnostic assay for S. stercoralis.
We have shown that the FLOTAC method holds promise for the diagnosis of S. mansoni. Moreover, our study confirms that FLOTAC is a sensitive technique for detection of common soil-transmitted helminths. For the diagnosis of S. stercoralis, the Koga agar plate method remains the method of choice.
Author Summary
Infections with parasitic worms (e.g., Schistosoma mansoni, hookworm, roundworm, whipworm, and threadworm) are still widespread in the developing world. Accurate diagnosis is important for better patient management and for monitoring of deworming programs. Unfortunately, methods to detect parasite eggs or larvae in stool samples lack sensitivity, particularly when infection intensities are low. The most widely used method for the diagnosis of S. mansoni, hookworm, roundworm and whipworm in epidemiological surveys is the Kato-Katz technique. Recently, the FLOTAC technique has shown a higher sensitivity than the Kato-Katz method for the diagnosis of hookworm, roundworm and whipworm, but no data are available for S. mansoni. We compared the diagnostic accuracy of the FLOTAC with the Kato-Katz, ether-concentration and Koga agar plate techniques for S. mansoni and other parasitic worm infections using stool samples from 112 school children from Côte d'Ivoire. FLOTAC showed the highest sensitivity for S. mansoni diagnosis. Egg counts, however, were lower when using FLOTAC, an issue which needs further investigations. The FLOTAC, Kato-Katz and ether-concentration techniques failed to accurately detect threadworm larvae, and hence, the Koga agar plate remains the method of choice for this neglected parasite.
PMCID: PMC2907416  PMID: 20651931
25.  Early Exposure of Infants to GI Nematodes Induces Th2 Dominant Immune Responses Which Are Unaffected by Periodic Anthelminthic Treatment 
We have previously shown a reduction in anaemia and wasting malnutrition in infants <3 years old in Pemba Island, Zanzibar, following repeated anthelminthic treatment for the endemic gastrointestinal (GI) nematodes Ascaris lumbricoides, hookworm and Trichuris trichiura. In view of the low intensity of worm infections in this age group, this was unexpected, and it was proposed that immune responses to the worms rather than their direct effects may play a significant role in morbidity in infants and that anthelminthic treatment may alleviate such effects. Therefore, the primary aims of this study were to characterise the immune response to initial/early GI nematode infections in infants and the effects of anthelminthic treatment on such immune responses. The frequency and levels of Th1/Th2 cytokines (IL-5, IL-13, IFN-γ and IL-10) induced by the worms were evaluated in 666 infants aged 6–24 months using the Whole Blood Assay. Ascaris and hookworm antigens induced predominantly Th2 cytokine responses, and levels of IL-5 and IL-13 were significantly correlated. The frequencies and levels of responses were higher for both Ascaris positive and hookworm positive infants compared with worm negative individuals, but very few infants made Trichuris-specific cytokine responses. Infants treated every 3 months with mebendazole showed a significantly lower prevalence of infection compared with placebo-treated controls at one year following baseline. At follow-up, cytokine responses to Ascaris and hookworm antigens, which remained Th2 biased, were increased compared with baseline but were not significantly affected by treatment. However, blood eosinophil levels, which were elevated in worm-infected children, were significantly lower in treated children. Thus the effect of deworming in this age group on anaemia and wasting malnutrition, which were replicated in this study, could not be explained by modification of cytokine responses but may be related to eosinophil function.
Author Summary
Infants and very young children commonly become infected with intestinal nematode infections. However, the worm burdens are generally very light, so a beneficial effect of deworming on wasting malnutrition and anaemia in this age group which we have demonstrated was unexpected and the mechanism unclear. To investigate this, we have, for the first time, determined whether such worm infections in infants induce significant immune reactions which might be detrimental to nutrition and growth e.g. by inducing inflammation in the gut or by cytokine effects on erythropoiesis. We also determined if such responses are modulated by regular deworming over a 9 month period. Peripheral blood cells from infants infected with Ascaris and hookworms in particular responded to stimulation with worm antigens, producing predominantly Th2 cytokines. Although the Th2 cytokine responses in the periphery were not significantly altered by deworming, the levels of eosinophils, which are regulated by the Th2 cytokine, IL-5, were lower after treatment. It is possible that eosinophils play a role in gut pathology leading to wasting malnutrition and anaemia in the very young and that this effect is reduced by deworming.
PMCID: PMC2677666  PMID: 19436745

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