Problems in Tropical Public Health Among Workers at a Jute Mill Near Calcutta

V. Eosinophile Levels and their Relation to Intestinal Helminthiasis in the Labor Force

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  • Department of Tropical Public Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston


An investigation of eosinophile levels in relation to intestinal helminthiasis among 750 workers, 51 supervisors and 47 staff servants, was conducted during March–June, 1952, at the mill of the Ludlow Jute Company, Chengail, Howrah District, West Bengal.

The mean eosinophile percentage of the mill workers was 10.3, that of the servants, 8.0, and that of the supervisors 3.0. Some 80 per cent of the mill workers had eosinophile counts in excess of 4 per cent and nearly 8 per cent of the workers had eosinophilia of 20 per cent or higher. The mean eosinophile percentage of 571 helminth-positive mill workers was 10.8, a value significantly (but not markedly) higher than the 8.7 per cent mean for 179 helminth-negative workers. The eosinophilia among helminth-positive workers appeared to be more closely related to hookworm infections than to the other helminthiases.

It is noted that eosinophile levels in individual workers cannot be taken to indicate the presence or absence of helminthic infection. Furthermore, those factors which are responsible for eosinophilia among helminth-negative workers (of whom 70 per cent had eosinophilia levels over 4 per cent) may also be expected to operate among those with intestinal helminths.

Eosinophilia among the mill workers, in relation to causes other than helminthic infections, is discussed with a view toward outlining further avenues of investigation.