Author(s): Hall A, Anwar KS, Tomkins AM
Abstract Share this page
Abstract Intestinal helminths are among the most common and widespread of human infections. Because it is typical to find that most worms are aggregated in a few potential hosts it has been suggested that some individuals are predisposed to heavy infections and that morbidity could be controlled by the treatment of heavily infected individuals only. We have studied the prevalence and intensity of reinfection with the intestinal nematode Ascaris lumbricoides among people living in Dhaka, Bangladesh. 880 people were treated with pyrantel pamoate three times at six month intervals, and on each occasion they collected all their stools for 48 h after treatment. Worms expelled by each subject were counted and weighed. The prevalence of infection at round 1 of treatment was 89\% and the mean burden was 18.5 worms. Reinfection was rapid and at rounds 2 and 3 the prevalence was 82\% and 80\%, respectively, with mean burdens of 14.0 and 11.5 worms. The intensity of reinfection was not random: more subjects than expected became heavily reinfected (greater than or equal to 15 worms) and more subjects than expected remained lightly infected (less than or equal to 14 worms) (p less than 0.001). Worms were highly aggregated at each round of treatment but although just over 10\% of all subjects were heavily infected at each and every round of treatment, over 60\% of all subjects were heavily infected at least once. The findings show that some individuals seem to be susceptible to heavy infection whereas others are not, that deworming has a greater effect on the intensity of infection than on the prevalence, and that mass chemotherapy is likely to be a more effective means to control morbidity than is selective treatment of heavily infected individuals only.
This article was published in Lancet
and referenced in Journal of Tropical Diseases & Public Health