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Trans R Soc Trop Med Hyg. 2001 Mar-Apr;95(2):139-42.

Predisposition to hookworm infection in Papua New Guinea.

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  • 1School of Biology, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK.


Reinfection with hookworm (Necator americanus) following chemotherapy was studied over 8 years in a rural village in Madang Province, Papua New Guinea. Faecal egg counts were performed on up to 202 individuals in July 1988, August 1990 and November 1996; the study population was treated after sampling in 1988 and 1990. Reinfection burdens in 1996 did not differ significantly from pretreatment burdens (in 1988), and were significantly higher than burdens in 1990. However, the prevalence of hookworm infection was significantly lower in 1996 than in either 1988 or 1990. There was significant predisposition to high or low hookworm burden between 1990 and 1996; this predisposition was stronger in children than adults. However, there was no detectable predisposition between 1988 and 1996 in individuals who had been treated 2 or more times between surveys. The mean weight of adult hookworms in individual hosts was measured in 1988 and 1990 using worms expelled after chemotherapy. There was a significant positive correlation between mean male hookworm weight in the 2 years, suggesting that individual hosts are predisposed to infection with heavy or light hookworms. These data suggest that differences in host susceptibility are involved in generating predisposition, but that longer-term variation in either exposure or susceptibility limits the period over which significant predisposition can be detected.

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