Main content area

Control of soil-transmitted helminthiasis in Yunnan province, People's Republic of China: Experiences and lessons from a 5-year multi-intervention trial

Steinmann, Peter, Yap, Peiling, Utzinger, Jürg, Du, Zun-Wei, Jiang, Jin-Yong, Chen, Ran, Wu, Fang-Wei, Chen, Jia-Xu, Zhou, Hui, Zhou, Xiao-Nong
Acta tropica 2015 v.141 pp. 271-280
Ascaris lumbricoides, Strongyloides stercoralis, Taenia, Trichuris trichiura, albendazole, at-risk population, deworming, drug therapy, drugs, health education, helminthiasis, hookworms, hygiene, people, pollution, sanitation, villages, China
The current global strategy for the control of soil-transmitted helminthiasis emphasises periodic administration of anthelminthic drugs to at-risk populations. However, this approach fails to address the root social and ecological causes of soil-transmitted helminthiasis. For sustainable control, it has been suggested that improvements in water, sanitation and hygiene behaviour are required. We designed a 5-year multi-intervention trial in Menghai county, Yunnan province, People's Republic of China. Three different interventions were implemented, each covering a village inhabited by 200–350 people. The interventions consisted of (i) initial health education at study inception and systematic treatment of all individuals aged ≥2 years once every year with a single dose of albendazole; (ii) initial health education and bi-annual albendazole administration; and (iii) bi-annual treatment coupled with latrine construction at family level and regular health education. Interventions were rigorously implemented for 3 years, whilst the follow-up, which included annual albendazole distribution, lasted for 2 more years. Before the third round of treatment, the prevalence of Ascaris lumbricoides was reduced by only 2.8% in the annual treatment arm, whilst bi-annual deworming combined with latrine construction and health education resulted in a prevalence reduction of 53.3% (p<0.001). All three control approaches significantly reduced the prevalence of Trichuris trichiura and hookworm, with the highest reductions achieved when chemotherapy was combined with sanitation and health education. The prevalence of T. trichiura remained at 30% and above regardless of the intervention. Only bi-annual treatment combined with latrine construction and health education significantly impacted on the prevalence of Taenia spp., but none of the interventions significantly reduced the prevalence of Strongyloides stercoralis. Our findings support the notion that in high-endemicity areas, sustainable control of soil-transmitted helminth infections necessitates measures to reduce faecal environmental contamination to complement mass drug administration. However, elimination of soil-transmitted helminthiasis will not be achieved in the short run even with a package of interventions, and probably requires improvements in living conditions, changes in hygiene behaviour and more efficacious anthelminthic drugs and treatment regimens.