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.
Malaria; Helminth; Hookworm; Mansonella perstans; Plasmodium falciparum; Co-Infection; Spatial; Geographic Factors; Pregnancy; Uganda
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.
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.
Infections; Co-infections; Measles; Helminth; Malaria; HIV; Maternal; Infants; Pregnancy; Immunisation
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.
HIV; viral load; helminths; anthelminthic treatment; clinical trial
Anaemia is multi-factorial in origin and disentangling its aetiology remains problematic, with surprisingly few studies investigating the relative contribution of different parasitic infections to anaemia amongst schoolchildren. We report cross-sectional data on haemoglobin, malaria parasitaemia, helminth infection and undernutrition among 1523 schoolchildren enrolled in classes 5 and 6 (aged 10–21 years) in 30 primary schools in western Kenya. Bayesian hierarchical modelling was used to investigate putative relationships. Children infected with Plasmodium falciparum or with a heavy Schistosoma mansoni infection, stunted children and girls were found to have lower haemoglobin concentrations. Children heavily infected with S. mansoni were also more likely to be anaemic compared with uninfected children. This study further highlights the importance of malaria and intestinal schistosomiasis as contributors to reduced haemoglobin levels among schoolchildren and helps guide the implementation of integrated school health programmes in areas of differing parasite transmission.
Anaemia; Haemoglobin concentration; Malaria; Helminth infections; Bayesian hierarchical models; School children; Kenya
Anaemia is multi-factorial in origin and disentangling its aetiology remains problematic, with surprisingly few studies investigating the relative contribution of different parasitic infections to anaemia amongst schoolchildren. We report cross-sectional data on haemoglobin, malaria parasitaemia, helminth infection and undernutrition among 1,523 schoolchildren enrolled in standards 5 and 6 (aged 10-21 years) in 30 primary schools in western Kenya. Bayesian hierarchical modelling was used to investigate putative relationships. Children infected with Plasmodium falciparum or with a heavy Schistosoma mansoni infection, stunted children and girls were found to have lower haemoglobin concentrations. Children heavily infected with S. mansoni were also more likely to be anaemic compared with uninfected children. This study further highlights the importance of malaria and intestinal schistosomiasis as contributors to reduced haemoglobin levels among schoolchildren and helps guide the implementation of integrated school health programmes in areas of differing parasite transmission.
Anaemia; Haemoglobin concentration; Malaria; Helminth infections; Bayesian hierarchical models; School children; Kenya
To determine spatial patterns of co-endemicity of schistosomiasis mansoni and the soil-transmitted helminths (STHs) Ascaris lumbricoides, Trichuris trichiura and hookworm in the Great Lakes region of East Africa, to help plan integrated neglected tropical disease programmes in this region.
Parasitological surveys were conducted in Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and Burundi in 28 213 children in 404 schools. Bayesian geostatistical models were used to interpolate prevalence of these infections across the study area. Interpolated prevalence maps were overlaid to determine areas of co-endemicity.
In the Great Lakes region, prevalence was 18.1% for Schistosoma mansoni, 50.0% for hookworm, 6.8% for A. lumbricoides and 6.8% for T. trichiura. Hookworm infection was ubiquitous, whereas S. mansoni, A. lumbricoides and T. trichiura were highly focal. Most areas were endemic (prevalence ≥10%) or hyperendemic (prevalence ≥50%) for one or more STHs, whereas endemic areas for schistosomiasis mansoni were restricted to foci adjacent large perennial water bodies.
Because of the ubiquity of hookworm, treatment programmes are required for STH throughout the region but efficient schistosomiasis control should only be targeted at limited high-risk areas. Therefore, integration of schistosomiasis with STH control is only indicated in limited foci in East Africa.
Schistosoma mansoni; Ascaris lumbricoides; hookworm; Trichuris trichiura; neglected tropical diseases; integrated control programmes
Malaria, malnutrition and anaemia are major causes of morbidity and mortality in African children. The interplay between these conditions is complex and limited data exist on factors associated with these conditions among infants born to HIV-uninfected and infected women.
Two hundred HIV-exposed (HIV-uninfected infants born to HIV-infected mothers) and 400 HIV-unexposed infants were recruited from an area of high malaria transmission in rural Uganda. A cross-sectional survey was performed at enrolment to measure the prevalence of malaria parasitaemia, measures of malnutrition (z-scores <2 standard deviations below mean) and anaemia (haemoglobin <8 gm/dL). Multivariate logistic regression was used to measure associations between these conditions and risk factors of interest including household demographics, malaria prevention practices, breastfeeding practices, household structure and wealth index.
The prevalence of malaria parasitaemia was 20%. Factors protective against parasitaemia included female gender (OR = 0.66, p = 0.047), mother’s age (OR = 0.81 per five-year increase, p = 0.01), reported bed net use (OR = 0.63, p = 0.03) and living in a well-constructed house (OR = 0.25, p = 0.01). Although HIV-unexposed infants had a higher risk of parasitaemia compared to HIV-exposed infants (24% vs 14%, p = 0.004), there was no significant association between HIV-exposure status and parasitaemia after controlling for the use of malaria preventative measures including bed net use and trimethoprim-sulphamethoxazole prophylaxis. The prevalence of stunting, underweight, and wasting were 10%, 7%, and 3%, respectively. HIV-exposed infants had a higher odds of stunting (OR = 2.23, p = 0.005), underweight (OR = 1.73, p = 0.09) and wasting (OR = 3.29, p = 0.02). The prevalence of anaemia was 12%. Risk factors for anaemia included older infant age (OR = 2.05 per one month increase, p = 0.003) and having malaria parasitaemia (OR = 5.74, p < 0.001).
Compared to HIV-unexposed infants, HIV-exposed infants had a higher use of malaria preventative measures and lower odds of malaria parasitaemia. Having a better constructed house was also protective against malaria parasitaemia. HIV-exposure was the primary risk factor for measures of malnutrition. The primary risk factor for anaemia was malaria parasitaemia. These findings suggest the need to better target existing interventions for malaria, malnutrition and anaemia as well as the need to explore further the mechanisms behind the observed associations.
Intestinal helminths and schistosomiasis among school children were investigated in an urban and some rural communities of Ogun State, southwest Nigeria. Fecal samples of 1,059 subjects (524 males, 535 females) aged 3-18 years were examined using direct smear and brine concentration methods between June 2005 and November 2006. The pooled prevalence of infection was 66.2%. Ascaris lumbricoides showed the highest prevalence (53.4%) (P < 0.001) followed by hookworms (17.8%), Trichuris trichiura (10.4%), Taenia sp. (9.6%), Schistosoma mansoni (2.3%), Strongyloides stercoralis (0.7%), Schistosoma haematobium (0.6%), and Enterobius vermicularis (0.3%). The prevalences of A. lumbricoides, hookworms, Taenia sp., S. mansoni, and S. stercoralis in the urban centre were similar (P > 0.05) to those in the rural communities. The fertile and infertile egg ratios of A. lumbricoides in the urban centre and the rural communities were 13: 1 and 3.7: 1, respectively. Each helminth had similar prevalences among both genders (P > 0.05). The prevalence of A. lumbricoides increased significantly with age (P < 0.001). The commonest double infections were Ascaris and hookworms, while the commonest triple infections were Ascaris, hookworms, and Trichuris. The study demonstrates the need for urgent intervention programmes against intestinal helminthiases and schistosomiasis in the study area.
Ascaris lumbricoides; Trichuris trichiura; Strongyloides stercoralis; Taenia sp.; Schistosoma mansoni; Schistosoma haematobium; prevalence; southwest Nigeria
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.
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.
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.
Immune modulation by parasites may influence susceptibility to bacteria and viruses. We examined the association between current parasite infections, HIV and syphilis (measured in blood or stool samples using standard methods) and antibodies against Kaposi's sarcoma herpesvirus (KSHV), measured by ELISA, in 1915 stored plasma samples from pregnant women in Entebbe, Uganda.
Seroprevalence of KSHV was higher in women with malaria parasitaemia (73% vs 60% p = 0.01), hookworm (67% vs 56% p = 0.001) and Mansonella perstans (69% vs 59% p = 0.05); seroprevalence increased with increasing intensity of hookworm infection (p < 0.001[trend]). No associations were found for HIV, five other parasites or active syphilis. These effects were not explained by socioeconomic status or education.
Specific parasite infections are associated with presence of antibodies against KSHV, perhaps mediated via their effect on immune function.
In sub-Saharan Africa, over 22 million people are estimated to be co-infected with both helminths and HIV-1. Several studies have suggested that de-worming individuals with HIV-1 may delay HIV-1 disease progression, and that the benefit of de-worming may vary by individual helminth species. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of the published literature to determine the effect of treatment of individual helminth infections on markers of HIV-1 progression (CD4 count and HIV viral load). There was a trend towards an association between treatment for Schistosoma mansoni and a decrease in HIV viral load (Weighted mean difference (WMD)=−0·10; 95% Confidence interval (CI): −0·24, 0·03), although this association was not seen for Ascaris lumbricoides, hookworm or Trichuris trichiura. Treatment of A. lumbricoides, S. mansoni, hookworm or T. trichiura was not associated with a change in CD4 count. While pooled data from randomized trials suggested clinical benefit of de-worming for individual helminth species, these effects decreased when observational data were included in the pooled analysis. While further trials are needed to confirm the role of anthelmintic treatment in HIV-1 co-infected individuals, providing anthelmintics to individuals with HIV-1 may be a safe, inexpensive and practical intervention to slow progression of HIV-1.
Helminth; HIV-1; co-infection; meta-analysis; Kenya
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Predictors and consequences of childhood anaemia in settings with high HIV prevalence are not well known. The aims of the present study were to identify maternal and child predictors of anaemia among children born to HIV-infected women and to study the association between childhood anaemia and mortality.
Prospective cohort study. Maternal characteristics during pregnancy and Hb measurements at 3-month intervals from birth were available for children. Information was also collected on malaria and HIV infection in the children, who were followed up for survival status until 24 months after birth.
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
The study sample consisted of 829 children born to HIV-positive women.
Advanced maternal clinical HIV disease (relative risk (RR) for stage ≥2 v. stage 1: 1.31, 95% CI 1.14, 1.51) and low CD4 cell counts during pregnancy (RR for <350 cells/mm3
v. ≥350 cells/mm3: 1.58, 95% CI 1.05, 2.37) were associated with increased risk of anaemia among children. Birth weight <2500 g, preterm birth (<34 weeks), malaria parasitaemia and HIV infection in the children also increased the risk of anaemia. Fe-deficiency anaemia in children was an independent predictor of mortality in the first two years of life (hazard ratio 1.99, 95 % CI 1.06, 3.72).
Comprehensive care including highly active antiretroviral therapy to eligible HIV-infected women during pregnancy could reduce the burden of anaemia in children. Programmes for the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV and antimalarial treatment to children could improve child survival in settings with high HIV prevalence.
HIV; Malaria; Anaemia; Child mortality; Sub-Saharan Africa
Malaria and hookworm infections are common in sub-Saharan Africa and they increase the prevalence of anaemia in pregnancy with resultant poor pregnancy outcomes. This study was carried out to assess the impact of Plasmodium falciparum and hookworm infections on the frequency of anaemia among pregnant women in two rural communities in Enugu, South East Nigeria.
A cross sectional descriptive study was carried out in a total of 226 women attending antenatal clinics at two rural Primary Health Centres (PHC) from April 2011 to July 2011(each PHC with 113 subjects). Socio-demographic data were collected through a structured questionnaire. Blood and stool samples were evaluated for haemoglobin estimation and malaria parasites, and stool samples examined for parasitic infection in all the women. Data was analyzed using STATA 10 software statistical analysis package. Student t-test was used for comparing mean values and chi square test for comparing categorical variables and level of significance set at p<0.05 and logistic regression was used to identify the risk factors associated with malaria in pregnancy.
The mean age of the women was 27years with range 18 - 38years and SD of 5years. Most of the women were housewives and over 50% in their second trimester. 53% of them had malaria parasites while 27% had hookworm infection. About 40% of the women were anaemic (haemoglobin < 0.001). Similar association was found between hookworm infection and anaemia (p <0.001). Though both malaria and hookworm infections greatly increase the odds for anaemia (AOR 18.06, CI 18.15 -39.99, P<0.001) and (AOR 5.28, CI 2.26-12.38, P<0.001) respectively, the odds for having anaemia in pregnancy was higher for malaria than hookworm infections.
Plasmodium falciparum and hookworm infections have significant impact on the high frequency of anaemia in pregnancy in our rural communities. There is need to strengthen the control program that has been in place with an integrated intervention to combat these parasitic infections in our rural communities, with mass distribution of antihelminthics as one of the included relevant methods, among others.
Malaria; hookworm; Enugu; parasites; Nigeria
A survey in Kumasi, Ghana found a marked Plasmodium falciparum prevalence difference between two neighbouring communities (Moshie Zongo and Manhyia). The primary objective of this follow-up study was to determine whether this parasite rate difference was consistent over time. Secondary objectives were to compare prevalences of clinical malaria, anaemia, intestinal parasite infections, and malnutrition between these communities; and to identify potential risk factors for P. falciparum infection and anaemia.
A cross-sectional house-to-house survey of P. falciparum parasitaemia, clinical malaria, anaemia, anthropometric indices, and intestinal helminths was conducted in April-May 2005. Data collection included child and household demographics, mosquito avoidance practices, distance to nearest health facility, child's travel history, symptoms, and anti-malarial use. Risk factors for P. falciparum and anaemia (Hb < 11 g/dl) were identified using generalized linear mixed models.
In total, 296 children were tested from 184 households. Prevalences of P. falciparum, clinical malaria, anaemia, and stunting were significantly higher in Moshie Zongo (37.8%, 16.9%, 66.2% and 21.1%, respectively) compared to Manhyia (12.8%, 3.4%, 34.5% and 7.4%). Of 197 children tested for helminths, four were positive for Dicrocoelium dendriticum. Population attributable risks (PAR%) of anaemia were 16.5% (P. falciparum) and 7.6% (malnutrition). Risk factors for P. falciparum infection were older age, rural travel, and lower socioeconomic status. Risk factors for anaemia were P. falciparum infection, Moshie Zongo residence, male sex, and younger age.
Heterogeneities in malariometric indices between neighbouring Kumasi communities are consistent over time. The low helminth prevalence, and the twofold higher PAR% of anaemia attributable to P. falciparum infection compared to malnutrition, indicate the importance of malaria as a cause of anaemia in this urban population.
In 1994 and 2002, respectively, the World Health Organisation proposed that treatment for hookworm and schistosomiasis could be provided during pregnancy. It was hoped that this might have benefits for maternal anaemia, fetal growth and perinatal mortality; a beneficial effect on the infant response to immunisation was also hypothesised. Three trials have now been conducted. Two have examined the effects of benzimidazoles; one (the Entebbe Mother and Baby Study) the effects of albendazole and praziquantel. All three were conducted in settings of high prevalence but low intensity helminth infection. Results suggest that, in such settings and given adequate provision of haematinics, the benefit of routine anthelminthics during pregnancy for maternal anaemia may be small; none of the other expected benefits has yet been demonstrated. The Entebbe Mother and Baby Study found a significant adverse effect of albendazole on the incidence of infantile eczema in the whole study population, and of praziquantel on the incidence of eczema among infants of mothers with Schistosoma mansoni. Further studies are required in settings that differ in helminth species and infection intensities. Further research is required to determine whether increased rates of infantile eczema translate to long-term susceptibility to allergy, and to explore the underlying mechanisms of these effects. The risks and benefits of routine anthelminthic treatment in antenatal clinics may need to be reconsidered.
Anthelminthic; pregnancy; albendazole; praziquantel; hookworm; Schistosoma mansoni; atopic eczema; anaemia
Given that micronutrient deficiency, neglected intestinal parasitic infections (IPIs) and poor socioeconomic status are closely linked, we conducted a cross-sectional study to assess the relationship between IPIs and nutritional status of children living in remote and rural areas in West Malaysia.
A total of 550 children participated, comprising 520 (94.5%) school children aged 7 to 12 years old, 30 (5.5%) young children aged 1 to 6 years old, 254 (46.2%) boys and 296 (53.8%) girls. Of the 550 children, 26.2% were anaemic, 54.9% iron deficient and 16.9% had iron deficiency anaemia (IDA). The overall prevalence of helminths was 76.5% comprising Trichuris trichiura (71.5%), Ascaris lumbricoides (41.6%) and hookworm infection (13.5%). It was observed that iron deficiency was significantly higher in girls (p = 0.032) compared to boys. Univariate analysis demonstrated that low level of mother's education (OR = 2.52; 95% CI = 1.38–4.60; p = 0.002), non working parents (OR = 2.18; 95% CI = 2.06–2.31; p = 0.013), low household income (OR = 2.02; 95% CI = 1.14–3.59; p = 0.015), T. trichiura (OR = 2.15; 95% CI = 1.21–3.81; p = 0.008) and A. lumbricoides infections (OR = 1.63; 95% CI = 1.04–2.55; p = 0.032) were significantly associated with the high prevalence of IDA. Multivariate analysis confirmed that low level of mother's education (OR = 1.48; 95 CI% = 1.33–2.58; p<0.001) was a significant predictor for IDA in these children.
It is crucial that a comprehensive primary health care programme for these communities that includes periodic de-worming, nutrition supplement, improved household economy, education, sanitation status and personal hygiene are taken into consideration to improve the nutritional status of these children.
Micronutrient deficiency and intestinal parasitic infections (IPIs) share a similar geographical distribution. A conservative estimate indicated that almost 2 billion individuals suffer from anaemia due to iron deficiency (ID), corresponding to 24.8% of the world's population. Crucially, most of these individuals are children and women of reproductive age in developing countries. Intestinal parasitic infections, especially soil-transmitted helminthes (STH), are prevalent in areas where micronutrient deficiency is widespread and the relationship between them has been studied. Most studies have noted an association between iron deficiency and IPIs. Against this background we studied the association between micronutrient deficiency, IPIs and socioeconomic factors among rural children in West Malaysia. Overall, 26.2%, 54.9% and 16.9% of the participants had anaemia, ID and iron deficiency anaemia (IDA), respectively. The overall prevalence of STH infections was 76.5% with Trichuris trichiura (71.5%), Ascaris lumbricoides (41.6%) and hookworm (13.5%). Univariate analysis found that low level of mother's education, i.e., less than 6 years of formal education, non working parents, low house income, T. trichiura infection and A. lumbricoides infection were significantly associated with the odds of IDA. The final multivariate analysis indicated that low level of mother's education was a significant predictor for IDA in these children.
In the framework of the monitoring and evaluation of the Nigerien schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminth control programme, a follow-up of children took place in eight sentinel sites. The objective of the study was to assess the evolution of Schistosoma haematobium infection and anaemia in schoolchildren after a single administration of praziquantel (PZQ) and albendazole.
Pre-treatment examination and follow-up at one year post-treatment of schoolchildren aged 7, 8, and 11 years, including interview, urine examination, ultrasound examination of the urinary tract, and measurement of haemoglobin. Before treatment, the overall prevalence of S. heamatobium infection was 75.4% of the 1,642 enrolled children, and 21.8% of children excreted more than 50 eggs/10 ml urine. Prevalence increased with age. The overall prevalence of anaemia (haemoglobin <11.5 g/dl) was 61.6%, decreasing significantly with increasing age. The mean haemoglobinemia was 11 g/dl. In bivariate analysis, anaemia was significantly more frequent in children infected with S. haematobium, although it was not correlated to the intensity of infection. Anaemia was also associated with micro-haematuria and to kidney distensions. In a sub-sample of 636 children tested for P. falciparum infection, anaemia was significantly more frequent in malaria-infected children. In multivariate analysis, significant predictors of anaemia were P. falciparum infection, kidney distension, and the village. One year after a single-dose praziquantel treatment (administered using the WHO PZQ dose pole) co-administered with albendazole (400 mg single dose) for de-worming, the prevalence of S. haematobium infection was 38%, while the prevalence of anaemia fell to 50.4%. The mean haemoglobinemia showed a statistically significant increase of 0.39 g/dl to reach 11.4 g/dl. Anaemia was no longer associated with S. haematobium or to P. falciparum infections, or to haematuria or ultrasound abnormalities of the urinary tract.
The high prevalence of anaemia in Nigerien children is clearly a result of many factors and not of schistosomiasis alone. Nevertheless, treatment of schistosomiasis and de-worming were followed by a partial, but significant, reduction of anaemia in schoolchildren, not explainable by any other obvious intervention.
The World Health Organization's recommendation for the control of urinary schistosomiasis is to reduce morbidity by reducing the prevalence of heavy infections. In Niger, where urinary schistosomiasis is endemic along the Niger River valley and in proximity to ponds, a national control programme for schistosomiasis and soil-transmitted helminth was launched in 2004 with the financial support of the Gates Foundation through the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative. In the framework of the monitoring and evaluation of the control programme, a follow-up of school children took place in eight sentinel sites. The aim of this study was to assess the evolution of Schistosoma haematobium infection and associated morbidity after a single-dose administration of praziquantel and albendazole. Before treatment, the overall prevalence of S. heamatobium infection was 75.4% and anaemia (haemoglobin <11.5 g/dl) was present in 61.6% of the study sample. One year after a single-dose praziquantel treatment (administered by dose-pole) co-administered with albendazole (400 mg single dose) for de-worming, all morbidity markers of the infection decreased significantly. This study shows how a schistosomiasis control programme can benefit populations by improving their health status.
Human helminthiases are common in China, especially in rural areas where sanitation conditions are poor. Co- and multiple infections with helminths are strikingly frequent. A cross-sectional parasitological and questionnaire survey was carried out in a population of 3205 individuals belonging to 498 families from five villages in the Poyang Lake region, Jiangxi Province, China, to assess their helminth infection status and to collect information on risk factors for infection. The prevalences for Ascaris lumbricoides, Schistosoma japonicum and Trichuris trichiura were 30.9%, 15.7% and 47%, respectively. Hookworm infection prevalence was low (0.7%). A significant association was observed between A. lumbricoides and T. trichiura infection, and also between S. japonicum and T. trichiura infection. Variance components analysis was undertaken to investigate the aggregation of S. japonicum and the soil-transmitted helminths, A. lumbricoides and T. trichiura. While A. lumbricoides was found to aggregate only at a household level, T. trichiura was shown to cluster predominantly in families. Both genetic and household effects were found to be important in determining the risk of infection with S. japonicum. Variance components analysis for A. lumbricoides/T. trichiura co-infections indicated a significant domestic environmental effect, attributable for 32.7% of the co-infection risk. Aggregation of S. japonicum/T. trichiura co-infection was also observed at a household level. The risk of infection with multiple helminth species, although mainly environmentally influenced, was also shown to have significant involvement of genetic and household components. The results of this study indicate that a shared household is a major contributing risk factor for helminth co-infections and emphasises the need for increased standards of sanitation and hygiene to prevent parasite transmission. Further, the results suggest that susceptibility to one helminth infection is not completely independent of another, and that there exist common genetic factors underlying infection with multiple helminth species.
Variance components analysis; Schistosoma japonicum; Ascaris lumbricoides; Trichuris trichiura; Poly-helminth infections
Human helminthiases are common in China, especially in rural areas where sanitation is poor. Co- and multiple infections with helminths are strikingly frequent. A cross-sectional parasitological and questionnaire survey was carried out in a population of 3205 individuals belonging to 498 families from 5 villages in the Poyang Lake region, Jiangxi Province, China, to assess their helminth infection status and to collect information on risk factors for infection. The prevalences for Ascaris lumbricoides, Schistosoma japonicum and Trichuris trichiura were 30.9%, 15.7% and 47%, respectively. Hookworm infection was low (0.7%). A significant association was observed between A. lumbricoides and T. trichiura infection and also between S. japonicum and T. trichiura infection. Variance components analysis was undertaken to investigate the aggregation of S. japonicum and the soil-transmitted helminths, A. lumbricoides and T. trichiura. While A. lumbricoides was found to aggregate only at a household level, T. trichiura was shown to cluster predominantly in families. Both genetic and household effects were found to be important in determining the risk of infection with S. japonicum. Variance components analysis for A. lumbricoides/T. trichiura co-infections indicated a significant domestic environmental effect, attributable for 32.7% of the co-infection risk. Aggregation of S. japonicum/T. trichiura co-infection was also observed at a household level. The risk of infection with multiple helminth species, although mainly environmentally influenced, was also shown to have significant involvement of genetic and household components. The results of this study indicate that shared household is a major contributing risk factor for helminth co-infections and emphasises the need for increased standards of sanitation and hygiene to prevent parasite transmission. Further, the results suggest that susceptibility to one helminth infection is not completely independent of another, and that there exist common genetic factors underlying infection with multiple helminth species.
Variance components analysis; Schistosoma japonicum; Ascaris lumbricoides; Trichuris trichiura; Poly-helminth infections
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.
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN32849447
Co-infection with malaria and intestinal parasites such as Ascaris lumbricoides is common. Malaria parasites induce a pro-inflammatory immune response that contributes to the pathogenic sequelae, such as malarial anaemia, that occur in malaria infection. Ascaris is known to create an anti-inflammatory immune environment which could, in theory, counteract the anti-malarial inflammatory immune response, minimizing the severity of malarial anaemia. This study examined whether Ascaris co-infection can minimize the severity of malarial anaemia.
Data from a randomized controlled trial on the effect of antihelminthic treatment in Nigerian preschool-aged (6–59 months) children conducted in 2006–2007 were analysed to examine the effect of malaria and Ascaris co-infection on anaemia severity. Children were enrolled and tested for malaria, helminths and anaemia at baseline, four, and eight months. Six hundred and ninety subjects were analysed in this study. Generalized linear mixed models were used to assess the relationship between infection status and Ascaris and Plasmodium parasite intensity on severity of anaemia, defined as a haemoglobin less than 11 g/dL.
Malaria prevalence ranged from 35-78% over the course of this study. Of the malaria-infected children, 55% were co-infected with Ascaris at baseline, 60% were co-infected four months later and 48% were co-infected eight months later, underlining the persistent prevalence of malaria-nematode co-infections in this population. Over the course of the study the percentage of anaemic subjects in the population ranged between 84% at baseline and 77% at the eight-month time point. The odds of being anaemic were four to five times higher in children infected with malaria compared to those without malaria. Ascaris infection alone did not increase the odds of being anaemic, indicating that malaria was the main cause of anaemia in this population. There was no significant difference in the severity of anaemia between children singly infected with malaria and co-infected with malaria and Ascaris.
In this cohort of Nigerian preschool children, malaria infection was the major contributor to anaemia status. Ascaris co-infection neither exacerbated nor ameliorated the severity of malarial anaemia.