How are transmitted?
Geohelminths are transmitted through five different parasites that exclusively infect humans: Ascaris lumbricoides and Trichuris trichiura, which infect man when the person ingests his eggs; and Necator americanus, Ancylostoma duodenale and Strongyloides stercolaris, which infect man when the larvae penetrate his skin.
There are effective medications against these parasites. To control serious infections, the World Health Organization (WHO) developed basic guidelines that indicate treatment with single doses of Albendazole or Mebendazole for supply in schools once or twice a year, depending on the number of infected children :
- If the percentage of infected children is less than 20%, the treatment is carried out individually;
- If the percentage ranges between 20 and 50%, treatment should be given to all children in the school (mass administration) once a year;
- If the percentage is greater than 50%, treatment should be given to all children in the school (mass administration) twice a year.
While these guidelines serve to prevent infected children from suffering the serious consequences that geohelminths can cause, mass treatment fails to interrupt transmission to other people for three main reasons:
- A single dose of Albendazole or Mebendazole does not completely cure children (therefore, they continue to expel eggs or larvae in their stool)
- Adults are not treated, so they can also continue to expel eggs or larvae in their stool (especially uncinaries)
- Neither of the two medicines used by WHO are effective against the Strongyloides stercolaris geohelminth.
What is geohelminthiases?
Soil-transmitted helminthiases, commonly known as intestinal parasites, generally affect the poorest communities of the world.
Its transmission is through contact with the eggs of the parasites eliminated with the faecal material of infected people who contaminate the soil in areas where sanitation is deficient. There is no direct transmission from person to person.
These diseases have a great impact on the social and economic development of communities with high prevalence of helminthiasis because they affect the working capacity of adults and the school absence of children.
Good hygiene practices, such as hand washing and personal hygiene, are measures that prevent this type of infection. In addition, in places of high risk, the use of footwear is important so that children do not become infected by contaminated soil.
What does Fundación Mundo Sano do for geohelminthiases?
To address geohelminthiases, we work on prevention, diagnosis and treatment, developing programs and projects aligned with our three pillars: translational research, knowledge dissemination and public-private cooperation.
Since 2015, we have promoted a comprehensive approach to these diseases through Comprehensive Community Intervention Programs for the Prevention and Control of Intestinal Parasites, both in Argentina and in Spain, Ethiopia and Mozambique.
In Argentina, we work in collaboration with the National Administration of Laboratories and Health Institutes “Dr. Carlos G. Malbrán” (ANLIS); in Spain and Ethiopia with the National Center for Tropical Medicine of the Carlos III Health Institute (Madrid) and the Bahir Dar University (Amhara Region, Ethiopia); and in Mozambique with the Health Research Center of Manhiça and the Global Health Institute Global (ISGlobal) of Barcelona.
In 2016, we joined the World Handwashing Day promoted by the Global Handwashing Partnership. Since then we have carried out prevention activities in schools in the locations where we have our offices: Pampa del Indio, Clorinda, Tartagal, Añatuya and Puerto Iguazú.