Parasitic Worm Infections - Helminthiases
Parasitic worm infections are a major public health issue in many tropical and subtropical low-income communities. In the case of soil-transmitted helminthiases, schistosomiases and foodborne trematodiases, infections are transmitted by eggs released in feces or urine which contaminate soil and water bodies. A lack of access to improved sanitation and safe water increases the risk of transmission as do unsafe nutrition practices. Different helminth infections can compromise the nutritional status of infected people and animals and affect cognitive processes or induce tissue damage resulting in blindness, lymphedema and other symptoms. Certain helminths are also classified as carcinogenic agents. The morbidity and mortality caused by helminth infections can debilitate whole communities and contribute to poverty in endemic areas.
The Commitment of Swiss TPH
Swiss TPH is active in a broad range of activities related to research and control of parasitic worm infections. The work comprises basic research, drug discovery and clinical trials, evaluation and development of new diagnostic tools, modelling and mapping of risk areas and burden of disease, support of countries in building their control and elimination programmes as well as teaching and training both in Switzerland and in endemic areas.
WHO Collaborating Centre
Zanzibar Elimination of Schistosomiasis Transmission
Urogenital schistosomiasis used to be a major public health problem in Zanzibar, Tanzania. In the past century, the prevalence has been reduced significantly and the elimination of disease and interruption of transmission is now in reach. In 90 schools and communities on Unguja and Pemba island, Swiss TPH assessed if snail control or behaviour change interventions have added benefits to bi-annual mass treatment of the population with praziquantel.
Combination Chemotherapy for Soil-Transmitted Helminthiasis
Drug combinations for the treatment of soil-transmitted helminthiasis are receiving increasing attention. Swiss TPH has conducted a series of pivotal trials over the past years, for example evaluating the efficacy and safety of oxantel pamoate-albendazole. Swiss TPH also aims to conduct preliminary studies on the efficacy of albendazole and ivermectin in dose-response relationship studies in different population subgroups and study pharmacokinetic properties of ivermectin. In addition, studies have been launched to investigate the safety and efficacy of combinations including tribendimidine and moxidectin.
Tuberculosis and Helminth Co-Infection in preschool-aged Children
Despite the high prevalence of helminth infections among preschool-aged children, control programmes in sub-Saharan African countries primarily focus on school-aged populations. Swiss TPH assesses the prevalence of helminth infections and determines risk factors for infection among preschool-aged children in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The study also evaluates the association of helminth infection and TB in children under five, as helminth infections may impair the immune response against other infectious diseases.