What is it about?

Soil-transmitted helminths (STHs) are a group of intestinal parasites included in the World Health Organization´s (WHO) list of Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs). This group includes roundworms, whipworms, and hookworms. Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is one of the regions most affected by NTDs and Ethiopia harbours one of the largest burdens of STH, especially hookworm, with 10 million infected. In this study we aimed to explore the association between the environment, soil and socioeconomic characteristics most associated with the presence of hookworm infection in a rural area from Bahir Dar, Amhara Region, Ethiopia. Results of this study showed that the presence of hookworm around the household is associated to environmental characteristics such as high temperatures, a combination of vigorous vegetation and bare compacted soil and acidic pH. On the other hand, the intensity of hookworm infection was associated with socioeconomic conditions such as the lack of latrines with the practice of open defecation and a lack of electricity. Therefore, in order for the infection to establish itself in a community, certain environmental characteristics need to be present. On the other hand, once the infection is established the transmission pattern of hookworm and its burden at the individual level is more closely related to certain socioeconomic and behavioral characteristics.

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Why is it important?

STH are widely transmitted in tropical and subtropical area of the world and the WHO has established deworming guidelines for school-aged children given the effect these parasites have on growth and development. Nonetheless, within countries, STH are not uniformly distributed. Moreover, not all countries have national level data to determine the presence of STH in their communities. Knowing the variables that are more associated with the presence of STHs in a community is useful or planning, targeting and monitoring of control measures.


Many studies have shown that the distribution of STH in a population is not heterogenous and that some species of STH are more prevalent than others. In this collaborative work with multidisciplinary professionals, it was possible to show the role of the environment, using geospatial tools, in the establishment of hookworm in rural villages from Ethiopia.

Maria Victoria Periago
Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas/ Fundación Mundo Sano

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This page is a summary of: Environmental characteristics around the household and their association with hookworm infection in rural communities from Bahir Dar, Amhara Region, Ethiopia, PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, June 2021, PLOS, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0009466.
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