Hygienic Behaviors and Risks for Ascariasis among College Students in Kabul, Afghanistan

Mohammad Yousuf Mubarak Department of Microbiology, Kabul Medical University, Kabul, Afghanistan;

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Abram L. Wagner Department of Epidemiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan;

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Bradley F. Carlson Department of Epidemiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan;

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Matthew L. Boulton Department of Epidemiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan;
Department of Internal Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan

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Teenagers have a high prevalence of ascariasis in low-income countries with endemic disease, and their hygienic behaviors and access to proper sanitation may be limited in rapidly urbanizing settings. We studied university students in Kabul to estimate the proportion with ascariasis and determine the prevalence of risk factors for infection. Ascariasis was assessed through microscopy for 520 students attending Kabul Medical University. Overall, 15.8% of students were infected. Living in a hostel (21.2% versus 10.4% in houses) using well water (27.7% versus 9.7% for piped water), eating street food (29.4% versus 3.0% for those who do not), and eating unwashed vegetables (63.6% versus 8.8% for those who do not) were risk factors for infection. Recent city migrants who live in group hostels, including students, are important targets for interventions to reduce ascariasis. Such interventions could include encouraging individuals to prepare their own food and use only potable water.

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Author Notes

Address correspondence to Abram L. Wagner, Department of Epidemiology, University of Michigan, 1415 Washington Heights, Ann Arbor, MI 48109. E-mail: awag@umich.edu

Financial support: ALW’s salary was funded through the PhRMA Foundation. This article and MYM’s participation in the Afghanistan Biosciences Fellowship Program is sponsored by the U.S. government Cooperative Biological Engagement Program with support from CRDF Global. The content of the information does not necessarily reflect the position or the policy of the federal government, and no official endorsement should be inferred.

Authors’ addresses: Mohammad Yousuf Mubarak, Department of Microbiology, Kabul Medical University, Kabul, Afghanistan, E-mail: yousuf.mubarak@kmu.edu.af. Abram L. Wagner, Bradley F. Carlson, and Matthew L. Boulton, Department of Epidemiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, E-mails: awag@umich.edu, bcarlson@umich.edu, and mboulton@umich.edu.

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