The Effect of the Availability of Latrines on Soil-Transmitted Nematode Infections in the Plantation Sector in Sri Lanka

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  • Technical Assistance Team, Department of Parasitology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, Department of Parasitology, Medical Research Institute, Plantation Housing and Social Welfare Trust, Colombo, Sri Lanka

The relationship of soil-transmitted nematode infections to the availability of latrines was studied among 1,614 children 3–12 years of age living on plantations in Sri Lanka. The majority (89.7%) of the children had at least one type of soil-transmitted nematode. There was a significantly lower mean count of hookworm eggs for children coming from plantations with good sanitary facilities. For Ascaris and Trichuris, a similar association was observed between the mean egg count and the availability of latrines for children from the low-country plantations, where people live in more scattered settlements, but not in the up-country area, where worker settlements are larger and more crowded. Congested living conditions in themselves consequently seem to be a major determinant for ascariasis and trichuriasis, and the provision of latrines and safe water does not substantially change that situation. However, improvements of sanitary facilities will probably have a more immediate effect on the prevalence of hookworm infection.