University of Cambridge > > Parasitology Seminars > The Burden of Soil-Transmitted Helminths in Nigeria, Control Efforts and the Need for Research Collaboration

The Burden of Soil-Transmitted Helminths in Nigeria, Control Efforts and the Need for Research Collaboration

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Soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infections are caused by different species of parasitic worms such as – Ascaris lumbricoides (Roundworm), Necator americanus and Ancylostoma duodenale (Hookworms) and Trichuris trichiura (Whipworm). They are transmitted through eggs present in human faeces, which contaminate soil in areas with poor sanitation. STHs affect over 1.5 billion people worldwide, with the highest prevalence in sub-Saharan Africa, China, South America, and Asia and are a significant public health concern in Nigeria. The infections are prevalent in the six geopolitical zones of the country, but the southwest zone has the highest burden of these infections. Recent studies reported that 54.8% of Nigerian children aged 0-17 years were infected with one or more species of STHs, and the most prevalent species was Ascaris lumbricoides. Children infected with these worms are usually nutritionally and physically impaired, while infected women of reproductive age are at risk of maternal and infant mortality, low birth weight, and iron deficiency anaemia. In Nigeria, the national control program implements an integrated approach to control these infections, which includes periodical deworming to eliminate infecting worms, health education to prevent re-infection, and improved sanitation to reduce soil contamination with infective eggs, with the goal of eliminating STHs as a public health problem by the year 2030. There is a need for collaborations across disciplines to determine the impact of co-infections on STH burden, mechanisms of immunoregulatory action, and susceptibility and protective factors associated with STH infections at the interfaces between humans, animals, and the environment, among others.

This talk is part of the Parasitology Seminars series.

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