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Ascaris and hookworm transmission in preschool children from rural Panama: role of yard environment, soil eggs/larvae and hygiene and play behaviours



This study explored whether the yard environment and child hygiene and play behaviours were associated with presence and intensity of Ascaris and hookworm in preschool children and with eggs and larvae in soil. Data were collected using questionnaires, a visual survey of the yard, soil samples and fecal samples collected at baseline and following re-infection. The presence of eggs/larvae in soil was associated negatively with water storage (eggs) but positively with dogs (eggs) and distance from home to latrine (larvae). Baseline and re-infection prevalences were: hookworm (28·0%, 3·4%); Ascaris (16·9%, 9·5%); Trichuris (0·9%, 0·7%). Zero-inflated negative binomial regression models revealed a higher baseline hookworm infection if yards had eggs or larvae, more vegetation or garbage, and if the child played with soil. Baseline Ascaris was associated with dirt floor, dogs, exposed soil in yard, open defecation and with less time playing outdoors, whereas Ascaris re-infection was associated with water storage, vegetation cover and garbage near the home and not playing with animals. Our results show complex interactions between infection, the yard environment and child behaviours, and indicate that transmission would be reduced if latrines were closer to the home, and if open defecation and water spillage were reduced.


Corresponding author

* Corresponding author. Institute of Parasitology and Centre for Host-Parasite Interactions, McGill University (Macdonald Campus), Ste-Anne de Bellevue, Quebec, Canada H9X 3V9. E-mail:


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