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J Vis Exp. 2012 Aug 22;(66):e3966. doi: 10.3791/3966.

Determining soil-transmitted helminth infection status and physical fitness of school-aged children.

Author information

1
Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel, Switzerland.

Abstract

Soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infections are common. Indeed, more than 1 billion people are affected, mainly in the developing world where poverty prevails and hygiene behavior, water supply, and sanitation are often deficient. Ascaris lumbricoides, Trichuris trichiura, and the two hookworm species, Ancylostoma duodenale and Necator americanus, are the most prevalent STHs. The estimated global burden due to hookworm disease, ascariasis, and trichuriasis is 22.1, 10.5, and 6.4 million disability-adjusted life years (DALYs), respectively. Furthermore, an estimated 30-100 million people are infected with Strongyloides stercoralis, the most neglected STH species of global significance which arguably also causes a considerable public health impact. Multiple-species infections (i.e., different STHs harbored in a single individual) are common, and infections have been linked to lowered productivity and thus economic outlook of developing countries. For the diagnosis of common STHs, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends the Kato-Katz technique, which is a relatively straightforward method for determining the prevalence and intensity of such infections. It facilitates the detection of parasite eggs that infected subjects pass in their feces. With regard to the diagnosis of S. stercoralis, there is currently no simple and accurate tool available. The Baermann technique is the most widely employed method for its diagnosis. The principle behind the Baermann technique is that active S. stercoralis larvae migrate out of an illuminated fresh fecal sample as the larvae are phototactic. It requires less sophisticated laboratory materials and is less time consuming than culture and immunological methods. Morbidities associated with STH infections range from acute but common symptoms, such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, and pruritus, to chronic symptoms, such as anemia, under- and malnutrition, and cognitive impairment. Since the symptoms are generally unspecific and subtle, they often go unnoticed, are considered a normal condition by affected individuals, or are treated as symptoms of other diseases that might be more common in a given setting. Hence, it is conceivable that the true burden of STH infections is underestimated by assessment tools relying on self-declared signs and symptoms as is usually the case in population-based surveys. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Stephenson and colleagues highlighted the possibility of STH infections lowering the physical fitness of boys aged 6-12 years. This line of scientific inquiry gained new momentum recently. The 20-meter (m) shuttle run test was developed and validated by Léger et al. and is used worldwide to measure the aerobic fitness of children. The test is easy to standardize and can be performed wherever a 20-m long and flat running course and an audio source are available, making its use attractive in resource-constrained settings. To facilitate and standardize attempts at assessing whether STH infections have an effect on the physical fitness of school-aged children, we present methodologies that diagnose STH infections or measure physical fitness that are simple to execute and yet, provide accurate and reproducible outcomes. This will help to generate new evidence regarding the health impact of STH infections.

PMID:
22951972
PMCID:
PMC3486755
DOI:
10.3791/3966
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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