News / Health

Latrines Cut Parasite Infections in Half

Study: sanitation key in control of hookworm, ringworm

People with access to sanitation facilities are at half the risk of infection as compared to those people without sanitation facilities, according to Swiss researchers.
People with access to sanitation facilities are at half the risk of infection as compared to those people without sanitation facilities, according to Swiss researchers.
Art Chimes

A new study shows that infection with hookworm, ringworm, and similar parasites can be dramatically reduced with a sanitation program.

The researchers found even installing simple latrines can cut infection rates in half.

Parasitic worms thrive in tropical and subtropical climates - areas that are home to some of the world's poorest communities.

At least one billion people are thought to be infected. Sanitary facilities are frequently non-existent in these communities, and when infected people defecate in the open, the infection can spread to others who eat raw, unwashed vegetables or even just walk barefoot on contaminated soil.



The World Health Organization has endorsed a program of preventive medication. The pills, given once or twice a year, are very effective. But researcher Jürg Utzinger, of Switzerland's Tropical and Public Health Institute, says that's not enough.

"Problem with this strategy is of course, after successful de-worming, the next day you can become re-infected," he said.

Removing the source of the infection can have an immediate and more lasting impact. Utzinger and his colleagues analyzed three dozen published studies and reported their findings in PloS Medicine.

"And what we then found [was] that people having access and use of sanitation facilities are approximately at half the risk of an infection than those people without sanitation facilities."

And when he talks about sanitation facilities, he's not talking about flush toilets. The studies indicate that even the very simplest and cheapest facilities - pit latrines - can have a dramatic impact on parasite infection rates.

Utzinger stresses that the biggest impact in combating parasite infection comes from combining different strategies.

"And we need preventive measures, and sanitation is clearly one way forward. So then, the combination of sanitation, along with the drug component, [and] health education, this really should be the way forward."

Utzinger points out that these kinds of parasitic worms were once common in the southeastern United States, a region that was desperately poor until the mid-20th century. The fact that public health programs successfully eradicated these soil-transmitted parasites suggests that eliminating them in places like sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia is an achievable goal.

You May Like

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs