The Impact of WASH on Re-infection with STH

Investigator: Jeremy Keenan, MD, MPH
Sponsor: Task Force for Global Health Inc

Location(s): Ethiopia


Soil-transmitted helminths (STH) refer to a group of parasites that live in the human digestive system. These parasites include roundworm, whipworm, and hookworm. The parasites live in the soil in warm and humid climates and are spread through contact with feces of infected people. Worldwide, approximately 1 billion people are infected with STH or at risk of infection

STH infection can cause blood loss, leading to anemia. It can also lead to nutritional deficiencies, which are especially harmful to children and women of child-bearing age. Infections can limit development and result in poor physical and cognitive growth in children. Girls are particularly affected due to lost educational gains and productivity. At the community level, this results in decreased educational outcomes and economic loss
STH are spread through contact with feces of infected individuals. Infection happens when fecally contaminated soil or food is ingested, or when larvae living in soil penetrate bare skin. Infections can be treated with deworming drugs. However, reinfection nearly always occurs following treatment when investments in water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) are low. 

This grant allows the investigators to add STH outcomes to an NIH-funded cluster randomized trial that randomizes a group of communities in Ethiopia to either a water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) intervention at the beginning of the study (WASH intervention group) or at the end of the study (comparison group).