Why Are We Still a Worm World in the 2020s? An Overview of Risk Factors and Endemicity for Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis
Purpose: Soil-transmitted helminthiasis (STH) is one of the most common chronic infections in developing countries associated with poor socioeconomic and sanitary conditions. The main objective of this overview was to evaluate the influence of environmental factors, risk factors related to the host, and control strategies on the prevalence of STH in different regions of the world.
Methods: LILACS, PubMed, Web of Knowledge, Embase, the Cochrane Library, and Clinical Trials (gray literature) databases were used to obtain the systematic reviews published until December 2020. The methodological quality of systematic reviews was assessed using the standard criteria recommended by AMSTAR.
Results: The initial results of the bibliographic search identified 1448 articles, of which 66 studies were read in full and 16 met the inclusion criteria. All the reviews included in this overview associated variations in the global prevalence of STH with at least one of the factors related to the environment, host, and/or control strategies. Climate, temperature, soil moisture, precipitation, mass drug administration, lack of access to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), and non-use of footwear were considered the main factors associated with the prevalence of STH. Socioeconomic factors, low educational level, and wearing shoes were universal factors related to prevalence, regardless of the location studied.
Conclusion: The combination of environmental factors, with factors associated with hosts that predispose infection and reinfection of helminths, as well as the adoption of control strategies based on the treatment of target populations instead of the entire population, influenced the prevalence of STH in all the continents evaluated.