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Access To, Use Of Sanitation Systems Cuts Odds Of Worm Infection In Half, Study Review Shows

When sanitation systems are available and used, the odds of contracting one of a group of diseases, known as soil-transmitted helminths (STH), is cut in half, according to a systemic review and meta-analysis published this week in PLoS Medicine, reports (Herriman, 1/25). “One billion of the world’s people experience a diminished ability to work, learn, and thrive as a result of infection by these parasites — roundworm, whipworm, and hookworm. The resulting losses in quality of life and productivity can trap people in a cycle of poverty and stigma and diminish their ability to care for themselves and their families,” the PLoS “Speaking of Medicine” blog writes.

The authors note the limitations of addressing STH infections with drug treatment, and urge the use of “integrated control,” which includes drug treatment, “preventive measures …, surveillance and research, strong health care systems, vector control, safe water supplies, good hygiene practices, and adequate sanitation systems,” the blog notes. The authors also state, “Implementation of sanitation facilities and integrated control approaches go far beyond the prevention and control of intestinal helminths; they impact other neglected tropical diseases, such as schistosomiasis, trachoma, and diarrhea … and can even help promote social and educational advances for women and girls,” according to the blog (Brown, 1/27).