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Effect of sanitation improvements on soil-transmitted helminth eggs in courtyard soil from rural Bangladesh: Evidence from a cluster-randomized controlled trial.

  • Author(s): Kwong, Laura H
  • Sen, Debashis
  • Islam, Sharmin
  • Shahriar, Sunny
  • Benjamin-Chung, Jade
  • Arnold, Benjamin F
  • Hubbard, Alan
  • Parvez, Sarker Masud
  • Islam, Mahfuza
  • Unicomb, Leanne
  • Rahman, Md Mahbubur
  • Nelson, Kara
  • Colford, John M
  • Luby, Stephen P
  • Ercumen, Ayse
  • et al.

Published Web Location

https://journals.plos.org/plosntds/article?id=10.1371/journal.pntd.0008815
No data is associated with this publication.
Abstract

Improved sanitation has been hypothesized to reduce soil-transmitted helminth (STH) infections by reducing the prevalence and concentration of STH eggs/larvae in soil. We evaluated the effect of a randomized sanitation program (providing households with an improved dual-pit latrine, tools for child/animal feces management, and behavioral messaging) on reducing the prevalence and concentration of STH eggs in soil from household courtyards. We collected soil samples from 1405 households enrolled in the sanitation intervention (n = 419) and control (n = 914) groups of a cluster-randomized controlled trial (WASH Benefits) in rural Bangladesh approximately 2 years after the initiation of the interventions. We analyzed samples for Ascaris lumbricoides, Trichuris trichiura, and hookworm eggs by microscopy. We estimated prevalence ratios (PR) and egg count ratio (ECR) to compare the prevalence of STH eggs and arithmetic and geometric mean egg counts for STH eggs per gram of soil in the sanitation and control arms. Among intervention households, latrines achieved high and sustained user uptake by adults while child open defecation remained common and most households did not dispose of child feces hygienically. In courtyard soil from control households, the prevalence of any STH eggs was 75.7% and the prevalence of any larvated STH eggs was 67.3%. A. lumbricoides was detected in 63.0% of control samples and T. trichiura in 55.7% of control samples; hookworm was not detected in any sample. In the control arm, the arithmetic mean egg count for any STH was 3.96 eggs/dry gram, while the geometric mean was 1.58 eggs/dry gram. There was no difference between the intervention and control groups in the prevalence of any STH eggs (PR = 0.98 (95% CI: 0.91, 1.05)) or mean egg counts (ECR = 0.08 (95% CI: -0.10, 0.26) for geometric mean and 0.07 (95% CI: -0.22, 0.37) for arithmetic mean). Adjusted models gave similar results. A compound-level sanitation intervention that provided improved latrines and tools for disposal of child and animal feces did not have an impact on STH eggs in soil. In order to effectively reduce the prevalence and concentration of STH eggs in the environment, sustained, widespread use of sanitation strategies to isolate and hygienically dispose of child and animal feces may need to complement traditional strategies for containment of adult human feces. Trial Registration: NCT01590095.

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