Soil-transmitted helminthiasis (STH) is caused by intestinal worms that are transmitted through contaminated soil. STH is a disease of poverty, affecting the poorest and most vulnerable people living in areas with (sub) tropical climates where sanitation and hygiene are poor. Approximately one billion people worldwide, of which 875 million are school-aged children, are infected with one or more of the STHs, including Ascaris, hookworm, and whipworm. Once the worms enter the body by skin penetration, they accumulate in the intestines where they secrete high amounts of eggs. Both the accumulation of worms and the secretion of eggs impair the nutritional status and cause several symptoms. Dependent on parasite burden, symptoms range from none in a light infection to diarrhea, malnutrition, weight loss, abdominal pain, malaise, impaired cognitive and physical development, and anaemia in a heavier infection.
The prevention and control strategies for STHs are based on periodic medicinal treatment of high risk populations, improvement of sanitation services to interrupt transmission, and the promotion of hygiene practices. Children Without Worms (CWW) and the STH Coalition are committed to the global control of STHs, especially for children. They represent and focus on multiple sectors, including public health (particularly NTDs), education, WASH, maternal health, nutrition, and global development. The 2015 Cochrane review on soil-transmitted helminth infections notes that research has shown the benefits of deworming children with STH. Therefore, the mass deworming programmes in areas where the prevalence of soil-transmitted helminth infections is over 20% will be continued.
Read here the latest global update on STHs.