How are geohelminths transmitted?
Geohelminths are transmitted by five different parasites that infect only humans: Ascaris lumbricoides and Trichuris trichiura, which infect a person that ingests the parasite eggs; and Necator americanus, Ancylostoma duodenale and Strongyloides stercolaris, which infect through larva penetration of the person skin.
There are effective medications against these parasites. To control severe 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 applied individually;
- If the percentage ranges between 20 and 50%, all children in the school should be treated (mass administration) once a year;
- If the percentage is greater than 50%, all children should be treated in the school (mass administration) twice a year.
While these guidelines serve to prevent infected children from suffering the serious consequences that geohelminths may cause, mass treatment fails to interrupt transmission to other people for three main reasons:
- A single dose of Albendazole or Mebendazole does not cure children completely (therefore, they continue to excrete eggs or larvae in their faeces)
- Adults are not treated, so they can also continue to excrete eggs or larvae in their faeces (especially uncinaries)
- Neither of the medicines used by WHO are effective against the geohelmith Strongyloides stercolaris.
What are geohelminths?
Soil-transmitted helminths, commonly known as intestinal parasites, generally affect the poorest communities of the world.
They are transmitted through contact with parasite eggs excreted in infected people’s faeces, which contaminate the soil in poor-sanitation areas. There is no direct transmission from person to person.
Geohelminthiasis have a great impact on the social and economic development of communities with high prevalence of helminthiasis because they affect the work capacity of adults and school attendance.
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, children should use footwear to avoid infection by contaminated soil.
What does Fundación Mundo Sano do for geohelminthiases?
To combat geohelminthiasis, we work on prevention, diagnosis and treatment, by 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 Laboratories and Health Institutes Administration (ANLIS); in Spain and Ethiopia with the National Centre 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 Centre of Manhiça and the Global Health Institute Global (ISGlobal) of Barcelona.
In 2016, we joined the Global Handwashing Day promoted by the Global Handwashing Partnership. Since then, we have carried out prevention activities in schools of the localities where we have our offices: Pampa del Indio, Clorinda, Tartagal, Añatuya and Puerto Iguazú.