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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Global numbers of infection and disease burden of soil transmitted helminth infections in 2010

Rachel L Pullan1*, Jennifer L Smith1, Rashmi Jasrasaria23 and Simon J Brooker1

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK

2 Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington, Seattle, USA

3 Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA, USA

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Parasites & Vectors 2014, 7:37  doi:10.1186/1756-3305-7-37

Published: 21 January 2014

Abstract

Background

Quantifying the burden of parasitic diseases in relation to other diseases and injuries requires reliable estimates of prevalence for each disease and an analytic framework within which to estimate attributable morbidity and mortality. Here we use data included in the Global Atlas of Helminth Infection to derive new global estimates of numbers infected with intestinal nematodes (soil-transmitted helminths, STH: Ascaris lumbricoides, Trichuris trichiura and the hookworms) and use disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) to estimate disease burden.

Methods

Prevalence data for 6,091 locations in 118 countries were sourced and used to estimate age-stratified mean prevalence for sub-national administrative units via a combination of model-based geostatistics (for sub-Saharan Africa) and empirical approaches (for all other regions). Geographical variation in infection prevalence within these units was approximated using modelled logit-normal distributions, and numbers of individuals with infection intensities above given thresholds estimated for each species using negative binomial distributions and age-specific worm/egg burden thresholds. Finally, age-stratified prevalence estimates for each level of infection intensity were incorporated into the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010 analytic framework to estimate the global burden of morbidity and mortality associated with each STH infection.

Results

Globally, an estimated 438.9 million people (95% Credible Interval (CI), 406.3 - 480.2 million) were infected with hookworm in 2010, 819.0 million (95% CI, 771.7 – 891.6 million) with A. lumbricoides and 464.6 million (95% CI, 429.6 – 508.0 million) with T. trichiura. Of the 4.98 million years lived with disability (YLDs) attributable to STH, 65% were attributable to hookworm, 22% to A. lumbricoides and the remaining 13% to T. trichiura. The vast majority of STH infections (67%) and YLDs (68%) occurred in Asia. When considering YLDs relative to total populations at risk however, the burden distribution varied more considerably within major global regions than between them.

Conclusion

Improvements in the cartography of helminth infection, combined with mathematical modelling approaches, have resulted in the most comprehensive contemporary estimates for the public health burden of STH. These numbers form an important benchmark upon which to evaluate future scale-up of major control efforts.

Keywords:
Soil-transmitted helminths; Ascaris lumbricoides; Trichuris trichiura; Hookworm; Disease burden; Disability-adjusted life years