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1.  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.
Background
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.
Conclusions
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
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0050325
PMCID: PMC3517620  PMID: 23236367
2.  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.
Summary
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Findings
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.
Interpretation
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.
Funding
Wellcome Trust.
doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(10)61457-2
PMCID: PMC3018567  PMID: 21176950
3.  Antihelminthics in helminth-endemic areas: effects on Hiv disease progression 
Background
Helminth infections, such as soil-transmitted helminths, schistosomiasis, onchocerciasis, and lymphatic filariasis, are prevalent in many countries where human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection is also common. There is some evidence from observational studies that HIV and helminth co-infection may be associated with higher viral load and lower CD4+ cell counts. Treatment of helminth infections with antihelminthics (deworming drugs) may have benefits for people living with HIV beyond simply clearance of worm infections.
This is an update of a Cochrane Review published in 2009 and we have expanded it to include outcomes of anaemia and adverse events.
Objectives
To evaluate the effects of deworming drugs (antihelminthic therapy) on markers of HIV disease progression, anaemia, and adverse events in children and adults.
Search methods
In this review update, we searched online for published and unpublished studies in the Cochrane Library, MEDLINE, EMBASE, CENTRAL, the World Health Organization (WHO) International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICRTP), ClinicalTrials.gov, and the WHO Global Health Library up to 29 September 2015. We also searched databases listing conference abstracts, scanned reference lists of articles, and contacted the authors of included studies.
Selection criteria
We searched for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that compared antihelminthic drugs with placebo or no intervention in HIV-positive people.
Data collection and analysis
Two review authors independently extracted data and assessed trials for eligibility and risk of bias. The primary outcomes were changes in HIV viral load and CD4+ cell count, and secondary outcomes were anaemia, iron deficiency, adverse events, and mortality events. We compared the effects of deworming using mean differences, risk ratios (RR), and 95% confidence intervals (CIs). We assessed the quality of evidence using the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) approach.
Main results
Eight trials met the inclusion criteria of this review, enrolling a total of 1612 participants. Three trials evaluated the effect of providing antihelminthics to all adults with HIV without knowledge of their helminth infection status, and five trials evaluated the effects of providing deworming drugs to HIV-positive individuals with confirmed helminth infections. Seven trials were conducted in sub-Saharan Africa and one in Thailand.
Antihelminthics for people with unknown helminth infection status
Providing antihelminthics (albendazole and praziquantel together or separately) to HIV-positive adults with unknown helminth infection status may have a small suppressive effect on mean viral load at six weeks but the 95% CI includes the possibility of no effect (difference in mean change −0.14 log10 viral RNA/mL, 95% CI −0.35 to 0.07, P = 0.19; one trial, 166 participants, low quality evidence).
Repeated dosing with deworming drugs over two years (albendazole every three months plus annual praziquantel), probably has little or no effect on mean viral load (difference in mean change 0.01 log10 viral RNA, 95% CI: −0.03 to −0.05; one trial, 917 participants, moderate quality evidence), and little or no effect on mean CD4+ count (difference in mean change 2.60 CD4+ cells/µL, 95% CI −10.15 to 15.35; P = 0.7; one trial, 917 participants, low quality evidence).
Antihelminthics for people with confirmed helminth infections
Treating confirmed helminth infections in HIV-positive adults may have a small suppressive effect on mean viral load at six to 12 weeks following deworming (difference in mean change −0.13 log10 viral RNA, 95% CI −0.26 to −0.00; P = 0.04; four trials, 445 participants, low quality evidence). However, this finding is strongly influenced by a single study of praziquantel treatment for schistosomiasis. There may also be a small favourable effect on mean CD4+ cell count at 12 weeks after deworming in HIV-positive populations with confirmed helminth infections (difference in mean change 37.86 CD4+ cells/µL, 95% CI 7.36 to 68.35; P = 0.01; three trials, 358 participants, low quality evidence).
Adverse events and mortality
There is no indication that antihelminthic drugs impart additional risks in HIV-positive populations. However, adverse events were not well reported (very low quality evidence) and trials were underpowered to evaluate effects on mortality (low quality evidence).
Authors' conclusions
There is low quality evidence that treating confirmed helminth infections in HIV-positive adults may have small, short-term favourable effects on markers of HIV disease progression. Further studies are required to confirm this finding. Current evidence suggests that deworming with antihelminthics is not harmful, and this is reassuring for the routine treatment of confirmed or suspected helminth infections in people living with HIV in co-endemic areas.
Further long-term studies are required to make confident conclusions regarding the impact of presumptively deworming all HIV-positive individuals irrespective of helminth infection status, as the only long-term trial to date did not demonstrate an effect.
Antihelminthics in helminth endemic areas: effects on HIV infection
This Cochrane Review summarizes trials that evaluated the benefits and potential risks of providing deworming drugs (antihelminthics) to people infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). After we searched for relevant trials up to 29 September 2015 we included eight trials that enrolled 1612 participants.
What are deworming drugs and why might they delay HIV disease progression
Deworming drugs are used to treat a variety of human helminth infections, such as soil-transmitted helminths, schistosomiasis, onchocerciasis, and lymphatic filariasis. In areas where these infections are common, the World Health Organization currently recommends that targeted populations are routinely treated every six to 12 months without prior confirmation of an individual's infection status. The use of empiric therapy, or treating all at-risk populations presumptively, is preferred to test-and-treat strategies because deworming drugs are inexpensive and well tolerated. Additionally, a strategy of testing before treatment is considered less cost-effective given that available diagnostic tests are relatively expensive and can exhibit poor sensitivity.
Helminth infections are known to affect the human immune system. In people with HIV, some studies have suggested that helminth infections may reduce the number of CD4+ cells (which are a critical part of the immune response to HIV) and compromise a person's ability to control HIV viral replication. Thus, treatment of helminth infections could have important benefits for people living with HIV beyond the benefits observed in the general population as a result of deworming.
What the evidence in this review suggests
Treating all HIV-positive adults with deworming drugs without knowledge of their helminth infection status may have a small suppressive effect on viral load at six weeks (low quality evidence), but repeated dosing over two years appears to have little or no effect on either viral load (moderate quality evidence) or CD4+ cell count (low quality evidence). These findings are based on two included studies.
Providing deworming drugs to HIV-positive adults with diagnosed helminth infection may result in a small suppressive effect on mean viral load at six to 12 weeks (low quality evidence) and a small favourable effect on mean CD4+ cell count at 12 weeks (low quality evidence). However, these findings are based on small studies and are strongly influenced by a single study of praziquantel for schistosomiasis. Further studies from different settings and populations are needed for confirmation.
Adverse events were not well reported (very low quality evidence), and trials were too small to evaluate the effects on mortality (low quality evidence). However there is no suggestion that deworming drugs are harmful for HIV-positive individuals.
doi:10.1002/14651858.CD006419.pub4
PMCID: PMC4963621  PMID: 27075622
4.  Effects of Deworming during Pregnancy on Maternal and Perinatal Outcomes in Entebbe, Uganda: A Randomized Controlled Trial 
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1086/649924
PMCID: PMC2857962  PMID: 20067426
5.  Helminth infections and type 2 diabetes: a cluster-randomized placebo controlled SUGARSPIN trial in Nangapanda, Flores, Indonesia 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2015;15:133.
Background
Insulin resistance is a strong predictor of the development of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Chronic helminth infections might protect against insulin resistance via a caloric restriction state and indirectly via T-helper-2 polarization of the immune system. Therefore the elimination of helminths might remove this beneficial effect on insulin resistance.
Methods/Design
To determine whether soil-transmitted helminth infections are associated with a better whole-body insulin sensitivity and whether this protection is reversible by anthelmintic treatment, a household-based cluster-randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted in the area of Nangapanda on Flores Island, Indonesia, an area endemic for soil-transmitted helminth infections. The trial incorporates three monthly treatment with albendazole or matching placebo for one year, whereby each treatment round consists of three consecutive days of supervised drug intake. The presence of soil-transmitted helminths will be evaluated in faeces using microscopy and/or PCR. The primary outcome of the study will be changes in insulin resistance as assessed by HOMA-IR, while the secondary outcomes will be changes in body mass index, waist circumference, fasting blood glucose, 2 h-glucose levels after oral glucose tolerance test, HbA1c, serum lipid levels, immunological parameters, and efficacy of anthelmintic treatment.
Discussion
The study will provide data on the effect of helminth infections on insulin resistance. It will assess the relationship between helminth infection status and immune responses as well as metabolic parameters, allowing the establishment of a link between inflammation and whole-body metabolic homeostasis. In addition, it will give information on anthelmintic treatment efficacy and effectiveness.
Trial registration
This study has been approved by the ethical committee of Faculty of Medicine Universitas Indonesia (ref: 549/H2.F1/ETIK/2013), and has been filed by the ethics committee of Leiden University Medical Center, clinical trial number: ISRCTN75636394. The study is reported in accordance with the CONSORT guidelines for cluster-randomised trials.
doi:10.1186/s12879-015-0873-4
PMCID: PMC4389675  PMID: 25888525
Insulin resistance; Helminth; Type 2 diabetes; Parasite; Metabolism; Albendazole; Immunology
6.  Asymptomatic Helminth Infection in Active Tuberculosis Is Associated with Increased Regulatory and Th-2 Responses and a Lower Sputum Smear Positivity 
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases  2015;9(8):e0003994.
Background
The impact of intestinal helminth infection on the clinical presentation and immune response during active tuberculosis (TB) infection is not well characterized. Our aim was to investigate whether asymptomatic intestinal helminth infection alters the clinical signs and symptoms as well as the cell mediated immune responses in patients with active TB.
Methodology
Consecutive, newly diagnosed TB patients and healthy community controls (CCs) were recruited in North-west Ethiopia. TB-score, body mass index and stool samples were analyzed. Cells from HIV-negative TB patients (HIV-/TB) and from CCs were analyzed for regulatory T-cells (Tregs) and cytokine responses using flow cytometry and ELISPOT, respectively.
Results
A significantly higher ratio of helminth co-infection was observed in TB patients without HIV (Helm+/HIV-/TB) compared to HIV negative CCs, (40% (121/306) versus 28% (85/306), p = 0.003). Helm+/HIV-/TB patients showed significantly increased IL-5 secreting cells compared to Helm-/HIV-/TB (37 SFU (IQR:13–103) versus 2 SFU (1–50); p = 0.02, n = 30). Likewise, levels of absolute Tregs (9.4 (3.2–16.7) cells/μl versus 2.4 (1.1–4.0) cells/μl; p = 0.041) and IL-10 secreting cells (65 SFU (7–196) versus 1 SFU (0–31); p = 0.014) were significantly higher in Helm+/HIV-/TB patients compared to Helm-/HIV-/TB patients. In a multivariate analysis, a lower rate of sputum smear positivity for acid fast bacilli, lower body temperature, and eosinophilia were independently associated with helminth infection in TB patients.
Conclusions
Asymptomatic helminth infection is associated with increased regulatory T-cell and Th2-type responses and a lower rate of sputum smear positivity. Further studies are warranted to investigate the clinical and immunological impact of helminth infection in TB patients.
Author Summary
The effects of helminth infection on chronic infectious diseases such as tuberculosis (TB) merit further characterization. There is limited data regarding the impact of helminth co-infection on clinical and immunological outcomes of TB from clinical field studies in high endemic areas. We tried to address some of these issues in a randomized clinical trial in order to investigate the impact of albendazole treatment on helminth co-infected TB patients. In the present study we focused on the clinical and immunological effects of helminth infection on TB. We found that concomitant asymptomatic helminth infection profoundly affects the immune phenotype of TB patients with a strong leaning towards Th2 types of immune response such as increased regulatory T cells as well as IL-5 and IL-10 secreting cells. Furthermore, helminth co-infection was associated with a significantly lower ratio of sputum smear positivity which correlated to the egg load in helminth positive TB patients. Whether the effect of helminth infection may have an impact on the diagnosis and treatment of active TB remains to be further investigated.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0003994
PMCID: PMC4527760  PMID: 26248316
7.  Does treatment of intestinal helminth infections influence malaria? Background and methodology of a longitudinal study of clinical, parasitological and immunological parameters in Nangapanda, Flores, Indonesia (ImmunoSPIN Study) 
Background
Given that helminth infections are thought to have strong immunomodulatory activity, the question whether helminth infections might affect responses to malaria antigens needs to be addressed. Different cross-sectional studies using diverse methodologies have reported that helminth infections might either exacerbate or reduce the severity of malaria attacks. The same discrepancies have been reported for parasitemia.
Methods/Design
To determine the effect of geohelminth infections and their treatment on malaria infection and disease outcome, as well as on immunological parameters, the area of Nangapanda on Flores Island, Indonesia, where malaria and helminth parasites are co-endemic was selected for a longitudinal study. Here a Double-blind randomized trial will be performed, incorporating repeated treatment with albendazole (400 mg) or placebo at three monthly intervals. Household characteristic data, anthropometry, the presence of intestinal helminth and Plasmodium spp infections, and the incidence of malaria episodes are recorded. In vitro cultures of whole blood, stimulated with a number of antigens, mitogens and toll like receptor ligands provide relevant immunological parameters at baseline and following 1 and 2 years of treatment rounds. The primary outcome of the study is the prevalence of Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax infection. The secondary outcome will be incidence and severity of malaria episodes detected via both passive and active follow-up. The tertiary outcome is the inflammatory cytokine profile in response to parasite antigens. The project also facilitates the transfer of state of the art methodologies and technologies, molecular diagnosis of parasitic diseases, immunology and epidemiology from Europe to Indonesia.
Discussion
The study will provide data on the effect of helminth infections on malaria. It will also give information on anthelminthic treatment efficacy and effectiveness and could help develop evidence-based policymaking.
Trial registration
This study was approved by The Ethical Committee of Faculty of Medicine, University of Indonesia, ref:194/PT02.FK/Etik/2006 and has been filed by ethics committee of the Leiden University Medical Center. Clinical trial number:ISRCTN83830814. The study is reported in accordance with the CONSORT guidelines for cluster-randomized studies.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-10-77
PMCID: PMC2859773  PMID: 20338054
8.  The effect of anthelminthic treatment during pregnancy on HIV plasma viral load; results from a randomised, double blinded, placebo-controlled trial in Uganda 
Background
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
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1097/QAI.0b013e3182511e42
PMCID: PMC3383620  PMID: 22728750
HIV; viral load; helminths; anthelminthic treatment; clinical trial
9.  Effect of Antihelminthic Treatment on Vaccine Immunogenicity to a Seasonal Influenza Vaccine in Primary School Children in Gabon: A Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial 
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases  2015;9(6):e0003768.
Background
Helminth infections are a major public health problem, especially in the tropics. Infected individuals have an altered immune response with evidence that antibody response to vaccination is impaired. Hence, treatment of helminth infections before vaccination may be a simple intervention to improve vaccine immunogenicity. In the present study we investigated whether a single-dose antihelminthic treatment influences antibody responses to a seasonal influenza vaccine in primary school children living in Gabon, Central Africa.
Methods
In this placebo-controlled double-blind trial conducted in Gabon the effect of a single-dose antihelminthic treatment with 400 mg albendazole versus a placebo one month prior to immunization with a seasonal influenza vaccine was investigated. Antiviral antibody titers against all three vaccine strains were assessed by haemagglutination inhibition (HI) test at baseline (Day 0; vaccination) and four weeks (Day 28) as well as 12 weeks (Day 84) following vaccination. Vaccine-specific memory B-cell response was measured at Day 0 and Day 84 by vaccine-specific Enzyme-linked Immunospot (ELISpot) assay. The trial is registered with the Pan African Clinical Trials Registry (PACTR) (PACTR201303000434188).
Results
98 school children aged 6–10 years were randomly allocated to receive either antihelminthic treatment or placebo and were vaccinated one month after the treatment. The prevalence of helminths at baseline was 21%. Vaccine-specific HI titers against at least one of the three vaccine strains increased at Day 28 and Day 84 in all participants. HI titers against both influenza A strains as well as memory B-cell response were modestly higher in the antihelminthic treated group compared to the placebo group but the difference was not statistically significant. Total but not specific IgA was elevated in the antihelminthic treated group compared to the control group at Day 28.
Conclusion
In our setting antihelminthic treatment had no significant effect on influenza vaccine immunogenicity. A trend towards better antiviral and vaccine immunogenicity in the antihelminthic treated group encourages studies to be conducted with alternative treatment schedules or in populations with a higher helminth burden.
Author Summary
Helminth infections are a major health problem in the tropics and most affected are children. The parasites are able to influence the immune system from a T-helper 1 type response to a T-helper 2 type response. There is evidence that in infected individuals the immune response following vaccination is impaired. Thus pre-treatment with a single-dose of an antihelminthic treatment before vaccination could be a simple and cost-effective intervention to improve vaccine efficacy. In the present study we investigated whether a single-dose antihelminthic treatment with albendazole influences the vaccine outcome to a seasonal influenza vaccine in primary school children living in Gabon, Central Africa. We observed a trend towards a higher anti-viral antibody titer after vaccination in the pre-treated group compared to the placebo control group, albeit not statistical significant. Furthermore we detected a higher concentration of total IgA but not of vaccine-specific IgA. In conclusion, our findings show subtle effects of antihelminthic pre-treatment but are not conclusive enough to recommend a single-dose of albendazole before vaccination to improve vaccine immunogenicity but encourage to conduct further studies in endemic areas with other treatment regiments.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0003768
PMCID: PMC4459874  PMID: 26053679
10.  The impact of albendazole treatment on the incidence of viral- and bacterial-induced diarrhea in school children in southern Vietnam: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial 
Trials  2016;17:279.
Background
Anthelmintics are one of the more commonly available classes of drugs to treat infections by parasitic helminths (especially nematodes) in the human intestinal tract. As a result of their cost-effectiveness, mass school-based deworming programs are becoming routine practice in developing countries. However, experimental and clinical evidence suggests that anthelmintic treatments may increase susceptibility to other gastrointestinal infections caused by bacteria, viruses, or protozoa. Hypothesizing that anthelmintics may increase diarrheal infections in treated children, we aim to evaluate the impact of anthelmintics on the incidence of diarrheal disease caused by viral and bacterial pathogens in school children in southern Vietnam.
Methods/design
This is a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial to investigate the effects of albendazole treatment versus placebo on the incidence of viral- and bacterial-induced diarrhea in 350 helminth-infected and 350 helminth-uninfected Vietnamese school children aged 6–15 years. Four hundred milligrams of albendazole, or placebo treatment will be administered once every 3 months for 12 months. At the end of 12 months, all participants will receive albendazole treatment. The primary endpoint of this study is the incidence of diarrheal disease assessed by 12 months of weekly active and passive case surveillance. Secondary endpoints include the prevalence and intensities of helminth, viral, and bacterial infections, alterations in host immunity and the gut microbiota with helminth and pathogen clearance, changes in mean z scores of body weight indices over time, and the number and severity of adverse events.
Discussion
In order to reduce helminth burdens, anthelmintics are being routinely administered to children in developing countries. However, the effects of anthelmintic treatment on susceptibility to other diseases, including diarrheal pathogens, remain unknown. It is important to monitor for unintended consequences of drug treatments in co-infected populations. In this trial, we will examine how anthelmintic treatment impacts host susceptibility to diarrheal infections, with the aim of informing deworming programs of any indirect effects of mass anthelmintic administrations on co-infecting enteric pathogens.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT02597556. Registered on 3 November 2015.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13063-016-1406-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s13063-016-1406-1
PMCID: PMC4896038  PMID: 27266697
Albendazole; Deworming; Soil-transmitted helminths; Diarrhea; Co-infection
11.  Tuberculin Skin-Test Reactions Are Unaffected by the Severity of Hyperendemic Intestinal Helminth Infections and Co-Infections 
The tuberculin skin test (TST) quantifies cell-mediated immunity to tuberculosis antigens. Helminths suppress cell-mediated immunity, so we studied the effect of helminth infection and deworming on the TST in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in an indigenous Amazon community (N = 195). Stool microscopy diagnosed helminths in 98% and co-infection with multiple species in 24% of study subjects. The TST was positive (≥ 10 mm) for 49%, and responses increased with age (P < 0.001), Bacille Calmette Guerin (BCG) vaccination (P = 0.01), and tuberculosis contact (P = 0.05). TST results had no association with helminth-egg concentrations, species, or co-infections (all P > 0.1). One month after deworming with albendazole (three daily 400-mg doses), helminths were reduced, but 63% remained infected with helminths. Albendazole did not cause a change in TST size (P = 0.8) or positivity (P = 0.9) relative to placebo. Thus, TST reactions were unaffected by albendazole therapy that partially cured intestinal helminth infections, and TST interpretation was unaffected by high-burden helminth infections and co-infection with multiple helminth species.
doi:10.4269/ajtmh.2010.10-0073
PMCID: PMC2911178  PMID: 20682875
12.  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.
Background
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.
Conclusions
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
Background
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 http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001162.
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
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001162
PMCID: PMC3265535  PMID: 22291577
13.  Non-specific immunological effects of selected routine childhood immunisations: systematic review 
The BMJ  2016;355:i5225.
Objective To identify and characterise non-specific immunological effects after routine childhood vaccines against BCG, measles, diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus.
Design Systematic review of randomised controlled trials, cohort studies, and case-control studies.
Data sources Embase, PubMed, Cochrane library, and Trip searched between 1947 and January 2014. Publications submitted by a panel of experts in the specialty were also included.
Eligibility criteria for selecting studies All human studies reporting non-specific immunological effects after vaccination with standard childhood immunisations. Studies using recombinant vaccines, no vaccine at all, or reporting only vaccine specific outcomes were excluded. The primary aim was to systematically identify, assemble, and review all available studies and data on the possible non-specific or heterologous immunological effects of BCG; measles; mumps, measles, and rubella (MMR); diphtheria; tetanus; and pertussis vaccines.
Results The initial search yielded 11 168 references; 77 manuscripts met the inclusion criteria for data analysis. In most included studies (48%) BCG was the vaccine intervention. The final time point of outcome measurement was primarily performed (70%) between one and 12 months after vaccination. There was a high risk of bias in the included studies, with no single study rated low risk across all assessment criteria. A total of 143 different immunological variables were reported, which, in conjunction with differences in measurement units and summary statistics, created a high number of combinations thus precluding any meta-analysis. Studies that compared BCG vaccinated with unvaccinated groups showed a trend towards increased IFN-γ production in vitro in the vaccinated groups. Increases were also observed for IFN-γ measured after BCG vaccination in response to in vitro stimulation with microbial antigens from Candida albicans, tetanus toxoid, Staphylococcus aureas, lipopolysaccharide, and hepatitis B. Cohort studies of measles vaccination showed an increase in lymphoproliferation to microbial antigens from tetanus toxoid and C albicans. Increases in immunogenicity to heterologous antigens were noted after diphtheria-tetanus (herpes simplex virus and polio antibody titres) and diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (pneumococcus serotype 14 and polio neutralising responses) vaccination.
Conclusions The papers reporting non-specific immunological effects had heterogeneous study designs and could not be conventionally meta-analysed, providing a low level of evidence quality. Some studies, such as BCG vaccine studies examining in vitro IFN-γ responses and measles vaccine studies examining lymphoproliferation to microbial antigen stimulation, showed a consistent direction of effect suggestive of non-specific immunological effects. The quality of the evidence, however, does not provide confidence in the nature, magnitude, or timing of non-specific immunological effects after vaccination with BCG, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, or measles containing vaccines nor the clinical importance of the findings.
doi:10.1136/bmj.i5225
PMCID: PMC5063033  PMID: 27737830
14.  Factors affecting the infant antibody response to measles immunisation in Entebbe-Uganda 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:619.
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusion
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.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-619
PMCID: PMC3733798  PMID: 23816281
Infections; Co-infections; Measles; Helminth; Malaria; HIV; Maternal; Infants; Pregnancy; Immunisation
15.  Risk Factors for Helminth, Malaria, and HIV Infection in Pregnancy in Entebbe, Uganda 
Background
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.
Objectives
To describe risk factors for helminths, malaria and HIV in pregnant Ugandan women before intervention in a trial of de-worming in pregnancy.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0000473
PMCID: PMC2696595  PMID: 19564904
16.  A longitudinal study of allergy and intestinal helminth infections in semi urban and rural areas of Flores, Indonesia (ImmunoSPIN Study) 
Background
The prevalence of asthma and atopic disease has been reported to be low in low income countries, however helminth infections are likely to be high among these communities. The question of whether helminth infections play a role in allergic diseases can best be addressed by intervention studies. None of the studies so far have been based on a large scale placebo-controlled trial.
Method/Design
This study was designed to assess how intestinal helminth infections can influence the immune response and atopic and allergic disorders in children in Indonesia. The relations between allergic outcomes and infection and lifestyle factors will be addressed. This study was set up among school-age children in semi urban and rural areas, located in Ende District of Flores Island, Indonesia. A randomized placebo-controlled anthelmintic treatment trial to elucidate the impact of helminth infections on the prevalence of skin prick test (SPT) reactivity and symptoms of allergic diseases will be performed. The children living in these semi-urban and rural areas will be assessed for SPT to allergens before and after 1 and 2 years of treatment as the primary outcome of the study; the secondary outcome is symptoms (asthma and atopic dermatitis); while the tertiary outcome is immune responses (both antibody levels to allergens and cellular immune responses).
Discussion
The study will provide information on the influence of helminth infections and anthelmintic treatment on immune response, atopy and allergic disorders.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN: ISRCTN83830814
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-83
PMCID: PMC3090332  PMID: 21457539
17.  Efficacy of Handwashing with Soap and Nail Clipping on Intestinal Parasitic Infections in School-Aged Children: A Factorial Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2015;12(6):e1001837.
Background
Intestinal parasitic infections are highly endemic among school-aged children in resource-limited settings. To lower their impact, preventive measures should be implemented that are sustainable with available resources. The aim of this study was to assess the impact of handwashing with soap and nail clipping on the prevention of intestinal parasite reinfections.
Methods and Findings
In this trial, 367 parasite-negative school-aged children (aged 6–15 y) were randomly assigned to receive both, one or the other, or neither of the interventions in a 2 × 2 factorial design. Assignment sequence was concealed. After 6 mo of follow-up, stool samples were examined using direct, concentration, and Kato-Katz methods. Hemoglobin levels were determined using a HemoCue spectrometer. The primary study outcomes were prevalence of intestinal parasite reinfection and infection intensity. The secondary outcome was anemia prevalence. Analysis was by intention to treat. Main effects were adjusted for sex, age, drinking water source, latrine use, pre-treatment parasites, handwashing with soap and nail clipping at baseline, and the other factor in the additive model. Fourteen percent (95% CI: 9% to 19%) of the children in the handwashing with soap intervention group were reinfected versus 29% (95% CI: 22% to 36%) in the groups with no handwashing with soap (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 0.32, 95% CI: 0.17 to 0.62). Similarly, 17% (95% CI: 12% to 22%) of the children in the nail clipping intervention group were reinfected versus 26% (95% CI: 20% to 32%) in the groups with no nail clipping (AOR 0.51, 95% CI: 0.27 to 0.95). Likewise, following the intervention, 13% (95% CI: 8% to 18%) of the children in the handwashing group were anemic versus 23% (95% CI: 17% to 29%) in the groups with no handwashing with soap (AOR 0.39, 95% CI: 0.20 to 0.78). The prevalence of anemia did not differ significantly between children in the nail clipping group and those in the groups with no nail clipping (AOR 0.53, 95% CI: 0.27 to 1.04). The intensive follow-up and monitoring during this study made it such that the assessment of the observed intervention benefits was under rather ideal circumstances, and hence the study could possibly overestimate the effects when compared to usual conditions.
Conclusions
Handwashing with soap at key times and weekly nail clipping significantly decreased intestinal parasite reinfection rates. Furthermore, the handwashing intervention significantly reduced anemia prevalence in children. The next essential step should be implementing pragmatic studies and developing more effective approaches to promote and implement handwashing with soap and nail clipping at larger scales.
In a factorial cluster randomized controlled trial, Mahmud Abdulkader Mahmud and colleagues examine the efficacy of handwashing with soap and nail clipping on intestinal parasitic infections in school-aged children.
Editors' Summary
Background
Intestinal parasitic infections are common human infections, particularly in resource-limited countries, where personal hygiene and access to clean water and sanitation (disposal of human feces and urine) is often poor. Worldwide, more than a billion people are infected with soil-transmitted helminths—roundworms, tapeworms, and other parasitic worms that live in the human intestine (gut). And millions of people are infected with protozoan (single-celled) intestinal parasites that cause diseases such as amebiasis and giardiasis. Both helminths and protozoan parasites are mainly spread by the fecal-oral route. Infected individuals excrete helminth eggs and protozoan parasites in their feces, and in regions where people regularly defecate in the open, the soil and water supplies become contaminated with parasites. People then ingest the parasites by eating raw, unwashed vegetables, by not washing their hands after handling contaminated soil, or by drinking contaminated water. Mild infections with helminths rarely have symptoms, but severe infections can cause abdominal pain, diarrhea, and malnutrition. Protozoan parasites also cause diarrhea. Importantly, among children, who are particularly susceptible to parasitic infections, intestinal parasite infections may slow growth, affect school performance, and cause anemia.
Why Was This Study Done?
Intestinal worm and protozoan infections can be treated with anthelmintic drugs and antibiotics, respectively. However, reinfection is often rapid, and, particularly in resource-limited countries, additional preventative measures are needed that do not rely on drugs (parasites can become drug-resistant) and that are sustainable with available resources. Given that intestinal parasitic infections usually spread through the fecal-oral route, the promotion of handwashing with soap and regular fingernail clipping might be one way to reduce intestinal parasite infection rates in low-income settings. Handwashing prevents other types of infection, and both unwashed hands and dirty, untrimmed nails are associated with high rates of parasite infection. Here, the researchers investigate whether handwashing with soap and nail clipping reduce intestinal reinfection rates by undertaking a factorial cluster randomized controlled trial (a study that compares outcomes in groups of people chosen at random to receive different combinations of two or more interventions) among school-aged children in northern Ethiopia.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers assigned 367 parasite-negative school-aged children to receive a handwashing intervention, a nail clipping intervention, both interventions, or neither intervention for six months. For the handwashing intervention, fieldworkers visited each intervention household weekly, provided soap, encouraged all the household members to wash their hands with water and soap at key times, such as before meals and after defecation, and checked on the household’s use of soap. For the nail clipping intervention, the fieldworkers clipped the nails of children in the intervention households every week. After six months, parasite reinfection (primary outcome) and anemia (secondary outcome) in the participants were assessed by examining stool samples for parasites and by measuring hemoglobin levels, respectively. After adjustment for factors likely to affect reinfection such as latrine use and drinking water source, 14% of the children in the handwashing with soap groups (handwashing alone and handwashing plus nail clipping) were reinfected with parasites compared to 29% of the children in the no handwashing groups (nail clipping only or neither intervention). Similarly, 17% of the children in the nail clipping groups were reinfected compared to 26% in the no nail clipping groups. Finally, handwashing (but not nail clipping) significantly reduced the rate of anemia among the children.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that handwashing with soap at key times decreased intestinal parasite reinfection rates by 68% and that weekly nail clipping reduced reinfection rates by 49% among school-aged Ethiopian children. Thus, these findings support the promotion of proper handwashing and weekly nail clipping as a public health measure to reduce parasite reinfection rates in resource-limited regions. However, although both interventions were “efficacious” under trial conditions that included intensive monitoring and follow-up, handwashing and nail clipping may not be “effective” interventions. That is, they may not work as well under real-life conditions. Moreover, because long-established personal hygiene and sanitation practices may be hard to change, large-scale implementation of these interventions might be expensive. The researchers call, therefore, for pragmatic studies to be undertaken to investigate the performance of these interventions under real-life conditions and for the development of effective approaches for widespread promotion of handwashing with soap and nail clipping.
Additional Information
This list of resources contains links that can be accessed when viewing the PDF on a device or via the online version of the article at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001837. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides basic information about protozoan parasites and helminths; its Alphabetical Index of Parasitic Diseases provides more information about roundworms, tapeworms, giardiasis, amebiasis, and other intestinal parasites/parasitic infections; it also provides information about handwashing and about handwashing as a family activityThe World Health Organization provides detailed information about intestinal worms, including a description of its current control strategyPARA-SITE is a multimedia resource provided by the Australian Society of Parasitology that provides detailed information about the biology of intestinal and other parasitesKidsHealth, a site provided by the US-based non-profit Nemours Foundation, provides information for parents, kids, and teenagers about several intestinal parasites and about the importance of handwashing for parents, kids, and teenagers (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001837
PMCID: PMC4461173  PMID: 26057703
18.  Albendazole treatment of HIV-1 and helminth co-infection: A randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled trial 
AIDS (London, England)  2008;22(13):1601-1609.
OBJECTIVE
Several co-infections have been shown to impact the progression of HIV-1 infection. We sought to determine if treatment of helminth co-infection in HIV-1 infected adults impacted markers of HIV-1 disease progression.
DESIGN
To date there have been no randomized trials to examine the effects of soil-transmitted helminth eradication on markers of HIV-1 progression.
METHODS
A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of albendazole (400mg daily for three days) in antiretroviral-naïve HIV-1 infected adults (CD4 >200 cells/mm3) with soil-transmitted helminth infection was conducted at ten sites in Kenya (Clinical Trials.gov NCT00130910). CD4 and plasma HIV-1 RNA levels at 12 weeks following randomization were compared in the trial arms using linear regression, adjusting for baseline values.
RESULTS
Of 1,551 HIV-1 infected individuals screened for helminth-infection, 299 were helminth-infected. 234 adults were enrolled and underwent randomization and 208 individuals were included in intent-to-treat analyses. Mean CD4 count was 557 cells/mm3 and mean plasma viral load was 4.75 log10 copies/mL at enrolment. Albendazole therapy resulted in significantly higher CD4 counts among individuals with Ascaris lumbricoides infection after 12 weeks of follow up (+109 cells/mm3; 95% CI +38.9 to +179.0, p=0.003) and a trend for 0.54 log10 lower HIV-1 RNA levels (p=0.09). These effects were not seen with treatment of other species of soil-transmitted helminths.
CONCLUSIONS
Treatment of A. lumbricoides with albendazole in HIV-1 co-infected adults resulted in significantly increased CD4 counts during 3-month follow-up. Given the high prevalence of A. lumbricoides infection worldwide, deworming may be an important potential strategy to delay HIV-1 progression.
doi:10.1097/QAD.0b013e32830a502e
PMCID: PMC2637615  PMID: 18670219
HIV-1 progression; helminth; co-infection
19.  The Lake Victoria island intervention study on worms and allergy-related diseases (LaVIISWA): study protocol for a randomised controlled trial 
Trials  2015;16:187.
Background
The Hygiene Hypothesis proposes that infection exposure protects against inflammatory conditions. Helminths possess allergen-like molecules and may specifically modulate allergy-related immunological pathways to inhibit responses which protect against them. Mass drug administration is recommended for helminth-endemic communities to control helminth-induced pathology, but may also result in increased rates of inflammation-mediated diseases in resource-poor settings. Immunological studies integrated with implementation of helminth control measures may elucidate how helminth elimination contributes to ongoing epidemics of inflammatory diseases. We present the design of the Lake Victoria Island Intervention Study on Worms and Allergy-related diseases (LaVIISWA), a cluster-randomised trial evaluating the risks and benefits of intensive versus standard anthelminthic treatment for allergy-related diseases and other health outcomes.
Methods/Design
The setting is comprised of island fishing communities in Mukono district, Uganda. Twenty-six communities have been randomised in a 1:1 ratio to receive standard or intensive anthelminthic intervention for a three-year period. Baseline characteristics were collected immediately prior to intervention rollout, commenced in February 2013. Primary outcomes are reported wheeze in the past 12 months and atopy (skin prick test response and allergen-specific immunoglobulin (asIg) E concentration). Secondary outcomes are visible flexural dermatitis, helminth infections, haemoglobin, growth parameters, hepatosplenomegaly, and responses to vaccine antigens. The trial provides a platform for in-depth analysis of clinical and immunological consequences of the contrasting interventions.
Discussion
The baseline survey has been completed successfully in a challenging environment. Baseline characteristics were balanced between trial arms. Prevalence of Schistosoma mansoni, hookworm, Strongyloides stercoralis and Trichuris trichiura was 52%, 23%, 13%, and 12%, respectively; 31% of Schistosoma mansoni infections were heavy (>400 eggs/gram). The prevalence of reported wheeze and positive skin prick test to any allergen was 5% and 20%, respectively. Respectively, 77% and 87% of participants had Dermatophagoides- and German cockroach-specific IgE above 0.35 kUA/L. These characteristics suggest that the LaVIISWA study will provide an excellent framework for investigating beneficial and detrimental effects of worms and their treatment, and the mechanisms of such effects.
Trial registration
This trial was registered with Current Controlled Trials (identifier: ISRCTN47196031) on 7 September 2012.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13063-015-0702-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s13063-015-0702-5
PMCID: PMC4413531  PMID: 25902705
Helminths; Anthelminthic treatment; Allergy; Atopy; Wheeze; Cluster-randomised trial
20.  Effect of Antenatal Parasitic Infections on Anti-vaccine IgG Levels in Children: A Prospective Birth Cohort Study in Kenya 
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases  2015;9(1):e0003466.
Background
Parasitic infections are prevalent among pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa. We investigated whether prenatal exposure to malaria and/or helminths affects the pattern of infant immune responses to standard vaccinations against Haemophilus influenzae (Hib), diphtheria (DT), hepatitis B (Hep B) and tetanus toxoid (TT).
Methods and Findings
450 Kenyan women were tested for malaria, schistosomiasis, lymphatic filariasis (LF), and intestinal helminths during pregnancy. After three standard vaccinations at 6, 10 and 14 weeks, their newborns were followed biannually to age 36 months and tested for absolute levels of IgG against Hib, DT, Hep B, and TT at each time point. Newborns’ cord blood (CB) lymphocyte responses to malaria blood-stage antigens, soluble Schistosoma haematobium worm antigen (SWAP), and filaria antigen (BMA) were also assessed. Three immunophenotype categories were compared: i) tolerant (those having Plasmodium-, Schistosoma-, or Wuchereria-infected mothers but lacking respective Th1/Th2-type recall responses at birth to malaria antigens, SWAP, or BMA); ii) sensitized (those with infected/uninfected mothers and detectable Th1/Th2-type CB recall response to respective parasite antigen); or iii) unexposed (no evidence of maternal infection or CB recall response).
Overall, 78.9% of mothers were infected with LF (44.7%), schistosomiasis (32.4%), malaria (27.6%) or hookworm (33.8%). Antenatal maternal malaria, LF, and hookworm were independently associated with significantly lower Hib-specific IgG. Presence of multiple maternal infections was associated with lower infant IgG levels against Hib and DT antigens post-vaccination. Post-vaccination IgG levels were also significantly associated with immunophenotype: malaria-tolerized infants had reduced response to DT, whereas filaria-tolerized infants showed reduced response to Hib.
Conclusions
There is an impaired ability to develop IgG antibody responses to key protective antigens of Hib and diphtheria in infants of mothers infected with malaria and/or helminths during pregnancy. These findings highlight the importance of control and prevention of parasitic infections among pregnant women.
Author Summary
Parasitic infections are prevalent among pregnant women in sub-Saharan Africa. Prenatal exposure to parasitic infections can generate several potential effects on fetal immune responses and affect functional antibody generation during subsequent vaccination. There is a paucity of data on the detrimental effects of chronic parasitic infections during pregnancy on the response to vaccine from birth to childhood. This paper highlights the overwhelming presence of helminth infection and malaria in pregnant women in rural Kenya. The study shows that the presence of single and multiple antenatal parasitic infections is associated with impaired infant IgG levels against Haemophilus influenzae (Hib) and diphtheria (DT) antigens post-vaccination from birth to 30 months of age. This study found that the response to DT was reduced in malaria-tolerized infants, and the response to Hib was impaired in filarial-tolerized infants; by contrast, the Schistosoma-tolerized group showed no effect. Deworming campaigns must be directed towards pregnant mothers, infants, and young children to improve response to vaccination.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0003466
PMCID: PMC4295886  PMID: 25590337
21.  Intermittent Preventive Treatment of Malaria in Pregnancy with Mefloquine in HIV-Infected Women Receiving Cotrimoxazole Prophylaxis: A Multicenter Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(9):e1001735.
Clara Menéndez and colleagues conducted a randomized controlled trial among HIV-positive pregnant women in Kenya, Mozambique, and Tanzania to investigate the safety and efficacy of mefloquine as intermittent preventative therapy for malaria in women receiving cotrimoxazole prophylaxis and long-lasting insecticide treated nets.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy (IPTp) with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) is recommended for malaria prevention in HIV-negative pregnant women, but it is contraindicated in HIV-infected women taking daily cotrimoxazole prophylaxis (CTXp) because of potential added risk of adverse effects associated with taking two antifolate drugs simultaneously. We studied the safety and efficacy of mefloquine (MQ) in women receiving CTXp and long-lasting insecticide treated nets (LLITNs).
Methods and Findings
A total of 1,071 HIV-infected women from Kenya, Mozambique, and Tanzania were randomized to receive either three doses of IPTp-MQ (15 mg/kg) or placebo given at least one month apart; all received CTXp and a LLITN. IPTp-MQ was associated with reduced rates of maternal parasitemia (risk ratio [RR], 0.47 [95% CI 0.27–0.82]; p = 0.008), placental malaria (RR, 0.52 [95% CI 0.29–0.90]; p = 0.021), and reduced incidence of non-obstetric hospital admissions (RR, 0.59 [95% CI 0.37–0.95]; p = 0.031) in the intention to treat (ITT) analysis. There were no differences in the prevalence of adverse pregnancy outcomes between groups. Drug tolerability was poorer in the MQ group compared to the control group (29.6% referred dizziness and 23.9% vomiting after the first IPTp-MQ administration). HIV viral load at delivery was higher in the MQ group compared to the control group (p = 0.048) in the ATP analysis. The frequency of perinatal mother to child transmission of HIV was increased in women who received MQ (RR, 1.95 [95% CI 1.14–3.33]; p = 0.015). The main limitation of the latter finding relates to the exploratory nature of this part of the analysis.
Conclusions
An effective antimalarial added to CTXp and LLITNs in HIV-infected pregnant women can improve malaria prevention, as well as maternal health through reduction in hospital admissions. However, MQ was not well tolerated, limiting its potential for IPTp and indicating the need to find alternatives with better tolerability to reduce malaria in this particularly vulnerable group. MQ was associated with an increased risk of mother to child transmission of HIV, which warrants a better understanding of the pharmacological interactions between antimalarials and antiretroviral drugs.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT 00811421; Pan African Clinical Trials Registry PACTR 2010020001813440
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Malaria, a mosquito-borne parasitic disease, kills about 600,000 people every year. Most of these deaths occur among young children living in sub-Saharan Africa but pregnant women living in Africa are also very vulnerable to malaria. Infection with malaria during pregnancy can cause severe maternal anemia (reduced red blood cell numbers), stillbirths, and pre-term and low-birthweight babies, and is responsible for the deaths of many African women and their babies. To reduce the loss of life from malaria in pregnancy, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that pregnant women living in Africa receive the antimalarial drug sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) at each scheduled antenatal care visit given at least a month apart (intermittent preventive treatment in pregnancy [IPTp]). In addition, WHO advises pregnant women to sleep under insecticide-treated bed nets to protect themselves from the bites of infected mosquitoes and recommends effective case management of pregnant women with malarial illness.
Why Was This Study Done?
Pregnant women living in Africa are often infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. HIV infection increases both the risk and severity of malaria infection during pregnancy, and at least one million pregnancies are complicated by co-infection with malaria and HIV in sub-Saharan Africa every year. WHO recommends that HIV-positive pregnant women take cotrimoxazole (CTX) daily to prevent opportunistic infections (CTX prophylaxis [CTXp]). Unfortunately, both CTX and SP are antifolate drugs and taking two drugs of this type increases a woman's risk of developing a severe skin reaction. Moreover, although CTXp protects children and HIV-infected adults against malaria, it is not known whether CTXp alone protects HIV-infected pregnant women adequately against malaria. Thus, evaluations of alternative drugs for use in IPTp in HIV-positive pregnant women are needed. In this randomized placebo-controlled trial, the researchers study the safety and efficacy of the antimalarial drug mefloquine (MQ) in HIV-infected women receiving CTXp. A randomized, placebo-controlled trial compares outcomes among people chosen through the play of chance to receive either the drug under investigation or a “dummy” (placebo) drug.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers allocated 1,071 HIV-infected pregnant women from Kenya, Mozambique, and Tanzania to receive three doses of MQ (IPTp-MQ), given at least one month apart, or three doses of placebo. All the women received CTXp and were given an insecticide-treated bed net. In an intention-to-treat analysis (an analysis that considers the outcomes of all trial participants irrespective of whether they receive their allocated treatment), the prevalence of parasitemia (parasites in the blood) at delivery among women given IPTp-MQ was 3.5% whereas the prevalence among women given the placebo was 6.9%. In other words, compared to placebo, IPTp-MQ was associated with a reduced risk of maternal parasitemia. IPTp-MQ was also associated with a reduced rate of placental malaria (parasites in the placenta) and a reduced incidence of hospital admissions for non-pregnancy related causes. There was no difference in adverse pregnancy outcomes such as stillbirth between the intervention groups but drug tolerability was poorer in the MQ group than in the placebo group. Finally, in an exploratory (unplanned) according-to-protocol analysis (an analysis that only considers outcomes in trial participants who receive their allocated intervention), women in the MQ group had a higher HIV viral load at delivery than women in the control group and were nearly twice as likely to transmit HIV to their child around the time of birth.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that the addition of IPTp-MQ to CTXp and the use of insecticide-treated bed nets can improve malaria prevention and maternal health in HIV-infected pregnant women in Africa. However, the poor tolerability of MQ and the association of MQ treatment with both an increased HIV viral load at delivery and a higher frequency of mother-to-child-transmission of HIV when compared to placebo raise concerns about the use of MQ in IPTp. Because these last two findings came from an exploratory analysis, which is more likely to throw up a chance finding than a pre-planned analysis further studies are needed to confirm these unexpected but potentially important findings. Nevertheless, overall, the findings of this study suggest that MQ should not be recommended for IPTp in HIV-infected pregnant women in Africa and highlight the need to find alternative drugs for malaria prevention in this group of women who are particularly vulnerable to malaria.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001735.
This study is further discussed in a PLOS Medicine Perspective by Richard Steketee.
A related PLOS Medicine Research Article by González et al. compares the efficacy of IPTp-MQ and IPTp-SP in HIV-negative women
Information is available from the World Health Organization on malaria (in several languages) and on malaria in pregnancy; information on IPTp and the current WHO policy recommendation on IPTp with SP are available; the 2013 World Malaria Report provides details of the current global malaria situation
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also provides information on malaria; a personal story about malaria in pregnancy is available
Information is available from the Roll Back Malaria Partnership on all aspects of global malaria control, including information on malaria in pregnancy
The Malaria in Pregnancy Consortium is undertaking research into the prevention and treatment of malaria in pregnancy
MedlinePlus provides links to additional information on malaria (in English and Spanish)
More information about the trial protocol is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001735
PMCID: PMC4172537  PMID: 25247995
22.  Treatment of Helminth Co-Infection in Individuals with HIV-1: A Systematic Review of the Literature 
Background and Objectives
The HIV-1 pandemic has disproportionately affected individuals in resource-constrained settings. It is important to determine if other prevalent infections affect the progression of HIV-1 in co-infected individuals in these settings. Some observational studies suggest that helminth infection may adversely affect HIV-1 progression. We sought to evaluate existing evidence on whether treatment of helminth infection impacts HIV-1 progression.
Review Methods
This review was conducted using the HIV/AIDS Cochrane Review Group (CRG) search strategy and guidelines. Published and unpublished studies were obtained from The Cochrane Library (Issue 3, 2006), MEDLINE (November 2006), EMBASE (November 2006), CENTRAL (July 2006), and AIDSEARCH (August 2006). Databases listing conference abstracts and scanned reference lists were searched, and authors of included studies were contacted. Data regarding changes in CD4 count, HIV-1 RNA levels, clinical staging and/or mortality were extracted and compared between helminth-treated and helminth-untreated or helminth-uninfected individuals.
Results
Of 6,384 abstracts identified, 15 met criteria for potential inclusion, of which 5 were eligible for inclusion. In the single randomized controlled trial (RCT) identified, HIV-1 and schistosomiasis co-infected individuals receiving treatment for schistosomiasis had a significantly lower change in plasma HIV-1 RNA over three months (−0.001 log10 copies/mL) compared to those receiving no treatment (+0.21 log10 copies/mL), (p = 0.03). Four observational studies met inclusion criteria, and all of these suggested a possible beneficial effect of helminth eradication on plasma HIV-1 RNA levels when compared to plasma HIV-1 RNA changes prior to helminth treatment or to helminth-uninfected or persistently helminth-infected individuals. The follow-up duration in these studies ranged from three to six months. The reported magnitude of effect on HIV-1 RNA was variable, ranging from 0.07–1.05 log10 copies/mL. None of the included studies showed a significant benefit of helminth treatment on CD4 decline, clinical staging, or mortality.
Conclusion
There are insufficient data available to determine the potential benefit of helminth eradication in HIV-1 and helminth co-infected adults. Data from a single RCT and multiple observational studies suggest possible benefit in reducing plasma viral load. The impact of de-worming on markers of HIV-1 progression should be addressed in larger randomized studies evaluating species-specific effects and with a sufficient duration of follow-up to document potential differences on clinical outcomes and CD4 decline.
Author Summary
Many people living in areas of the world most affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic are also exposed to other common infections. Parasitic infections with helminths (intestinal worms) are common in Africa and affect over half of the population in some areas. There are plausible biological reasons why treating helminth infections in people with HIV may slow down the progression of HIV to AIDS. Thus, treating people with HIV for helminths in areas with a high prevalence of both HIV and helminth infections may be a feasible strategy to help people with HIV delay progression of their disease or initiation of antiretroviral therapy. After a comprehensive review of the available literature, we conclude that there is not enough evidence to determine whether treating helminth infections in people with HIV is beneficial.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0000102
PMCID: PMC2154389  PMID: 18160978
23.  Trichuris suis ova in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis and clinically isolated syndrome (TRIOMS): study protocol for a randomized controlled trial 
Trials  2013;14:112.
Background
Trichuris suis ova is a probiotic treatment based on the hygiene hypothesis. It has been demonstrated as safe and effective in autoimmune inflammatory bowel diseases and clinical trials indicate that helminth infections also have an immunomodulatory effect in multiple sclerosis.
We hypothesize that administering 2,500 Trichuris suis ova eggs orally every two weeks for 12 months is - due to its immunomodulatory and anti-inflammatory effect - significantly more effective than oral placebo in preventing new T2 and Gd+ lesions, as quantified by cerebral MRI and clinical examination, in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis and clinically isolated syndrome.
Methods/Design
Fifty patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis or clinically isolated syndrome with clinical activity, not undergoing any standard therapies, will be randomized 1:1 to Trichuris suis ova 2,500 eggs every two weeks or matching placebo. The safety, tolerability and effect on disease activity and in vivo mechanisms of action of Trichuris suis ova in MS will be assessed by neurological, laboratory and immunological exams and magnetic resonance imaging throughout the 12-month treatment period and over a follow-up period of 6 months. Various immunological analyses will be used to assess the overall patient immune response prior to and at varying time points following treatment with Trichuris suis ova.
Discussion
We anticipate that Trichuris suis ova will be well tolerated and more effective than the placebo in preventing new T2 and Gd+ lesions, as quantified by MRI. We also expect the Th1/Th17 proinflammatory response to shift towards the more anti-inflammatory Th2 response. This study has important clinical implications and will involve extensive research on the immunology of helminth therapy.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov: NCT01413243
doi:10.1186/1745-6215-14-112
PMCID: PMC3680966  PMID: 23782752
Multiple sclerosis; Trichuris suis ova; Clinical trial; Intervention; Immmunomodulation; Hygiene hypothesis
24.  Assessing the external validity of a randomized controlled trial of anthelminthics in mothers and their children in Entebbe, Uganda 
Trials  2014;15:310.
Background
The ‘external validity’ of randomized controlled trials is an important measure of quality, but is often not formally assessed. Trials concerning mass drug administration for helminth control are likely to guide public health policy and careful interpretation of their context is needed. We aimed to determine how representative participants in one such trial were of their community. We explore implications for trial interpretation and resulting public health recommendations.
Methods
The trial assessed was the Entebbe Mother and Baby Study (EMaBS), a trial of anthelminthic treatment during pregnancy and early childhood. In a novel approach for assessing external validity, we conducted a two-stage cluster sample community survey within the trial catchment area and compared characteristics of potentially-eligible community children with characteristics of children participating in the trial.
Results
A total of 173 children aged three to five-years-old were surveyed from 480 households. Of children surveyed, we estimated that mothers of 60% would have been eligible for recruitment, and of these, 31% had actually been enrolled. Children surveyed were compared to 199 trial children in the same age group reviewed at annual trial visits during the same time period. There were significant differences in ethnicity between the trial participants and the community children, and in socioeconomic status, with those in the trial having, on average, more educated parents and higher maternal employment. Trial children were less likely to have barefoot exposure and more likely to use insecticide-treated bed nets. There were no significant differences in numbers of reported illness events over the last year.
Conclusions
The trial had not enrolled all eligible participants, and those enrolled were of higher socioeconomic status, and had lower risk of exposure to the parasitic infections targeted by the trial interventions. It is possible the trial may have underestimated the absolute effects of anthelminthic treatment during pregnancy and early childhood, although the fact that there were no differences in reported incidence of common infectious diseases (one of the primary outcomes of EMaBS) between the two groups provides reassurance. Concurrent community surveys may be an effective way to test the external validity of trials.
EMaBS Trial registration
ISRCTN32849447, registered 22 July 2005
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1745-6215-15-310) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/1745-6215-15-310
PMCID: PMC4138365  PMID: 25100338
Helminths; Anthelminthics; External validity; Generalizability; Cluster sample community survey; Uganda
25.  Safety and Immunogenicity of Tetanus Diphtheria and Acellular Pertussis (Tdap) Immunization During Pregnancy in Mothers and Infants: A Randomized Clinical Trial 
JAMA  2014;311(17):1760-1769.
Importance
Maternal immunization with tetanus toxoid and reduced diphtheria toxoid acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine could prevent infant pertussis. The effect of vaccine-induced maternal antibodies on infant responses to diphtheria and tetanus toxoids acellular pertussis (DTaP) immunization is unknown.
Objective
To evaluate the safety and immunogenicity of Tdap immunization during pregnancy and its effect on infant responses to DTaP.
Design, Setting and Participants
Phase I, randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled clinical trial conducted in private (Houston) and academic (Durham, Seattle) obstetric practices from 2008 to 2012. Forty eight healthy 18–45 year-old pregnant women received Tdap (n=33) or placebo (n=15) at 30–32 weeks’ gestation with cross-over Tdap immunization postpartum.
Interventions
Tdap vaccination at 30–32 weeks’ gestation or post-partum.
Outcome Measures
Primary: Maternal and infant adverse events, pertussis illness and infant growth and development (Bayley-III screening test) until 13 months of age. Secondary: Antibody concentrations in pregnant women before and 4 weeks after Tdap immunization or placebo, at delivery and 2 months postpartum, and in infants at birth, 2 months, and after the third (7 months) and fourth (13 months) doses of DTaP.
Results
All participants delivered healthy newborns. No Tdap-associated serious adverse events occurred in women or infants. Injection site reactions after Tdap immunization were reported in 78.8% (95% CI: 61.1%, 91.0%) and 80% (CI: 51.9%, 95.7%) pregnant and postpartum women, respectively. Injection site pain was the predominant symptom. Systemic symptoms were reported in 36.4% (CI: 20.4%, 54.9%) and 73.3% (CI: 44.9%, 92.2%) pregnant and postpartum women, respectively. Malaise and myalgia were most common. Growth and development were similar in both infant groups. No cases of pertussis occurred. Significantly higher concentrations of pertussis antibodies were measured at delivery in women who received Tdap during pregnancy and in their infants at birth and at age 2 months when compared to infants of women immunized postpartum. Antibody responses in infants of Tdap recipients during pregnancy were modestly lower after 3 DTaP doses, but not different following the fourth dose.
Conclusions and Relevance
This preliminary safety assessment did not find an increased risk of adverse events among women who received Tdap vaccine at 30–32 weeks’ gestation or their infants. Maternal immunization with Tdap resulted in high concentrations of pertussis antibodies in infants during the first 2 months of life and did not substantially alter infant responses to DTaP. Further research is needed to provide definitive evidence of the safety and efficacy of Tdap vaccination during pregnancy.
Trial Registration
ClinicalTrials.gov, study identifier: NCT00707148. URL: http://www.clinicaltrials.gov
doi:10.1001/jama.2014.3633
PMCID: PMC4333147  PMID: 24794369
Maternal immunization; Pertussis; infants; maternal antibodies; response to active immunization

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