Soil-transmitted helminth infections: ascariasis, trichuriasis, and hookworm

The three main soil-transmitted helminth infections, ascariasis, trichuriasis, and hookworm, are common clinical disorders in man. The gastrointestinal tract of a child living in poverty in a less developed country is likely to be parasitised with at least one, and in many cases all three soil-transmitted helminths, with resultant impairments in physical, intellectual, and cognitive development. The benzimidazole anthelmintics, mebendazole and albendazole, are commonly used to remove these infections. The use of these drugs is not limited to treatment of symptomatic soil-transmitted helminth infections, but also for large-scale prevention of morbidity in children living in endemic areas. As a result of data showing improvements in child health and education after deworming, and the burden of disease attributed to soil-transmitted helminths, the worldwide community is awakening to the importance of these infections. Concerns about the sustainability of periodic deworming with benzimidazole anthelmintics and the emergence of resistance have prompted efforts to develop and test new control tools.

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