Multiple helminth infections in children: impact and control
Parasitic worm infections are amongst the most widespread of all chronic human infections. It is estimated that there are more than 3 billion infections in the world today. In many low income countries it is often more common to be infected than not to be. Indeed, a child growing up in an endemic community can expect be infected soon after weaning, and to be infected and constantly reinfected for the rest of her or his life. Infection is most common amongst the poorest and most disadvantaged communities, and is typically most intense in children of school going age. As the risk of morbidity is directly related to intensity of infection, it follows that children are the most at risk from the morbid effects of disease. Multiparasite infections are also common in such communities and there is evidence that individuals harbouring such infections may suffer exacerbated morbidity, making children even more vulnerable. Thus, these infections pose a serious threat to the health and development of children in low income countries. For many years, the need to control these infections has lain uncontested, and with the advent of broad-spectrum anthelminthic drugs that are cheap, safe and simple to deliver, control has at last become a viable option for many communities. Furthermore, there is now increased emphasis being placed on a multispecies approach as a cost-effective mechanism to control the morbidity of virtually all the major helminthic infections of humans.
Key Words: helminth; multiple infections; school-age child.
c1 Corresponding author: Lesley Drake. Tel: (44) 1865 281231. Fax: (44) 1865 281245. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org