Impact of Key Assumptions About the Population Biology of Soil-Transmitted Helminths on the Sustainable Control of Morbidity

14 Jun 2021
Carolin Vegvari, Federica Giardina, Veronica Malizia, Sake J de Vlas, Luc E Coffeng, Roy M Anderson

The design and evaluation of control programs for soil-transmitted helminths (STHs) is based on surveillance data recording measurements of egg counts in the stool of infected individuals, which underpin estimates of the prevalence and average intensity of infection. There is considerable uncertainty around these measurements and their interpretation. The uncertainty is composed of several sources of measurement error and the limit of detection of fecal smear tests on the one hand, and key assumptions on STH biology on the other hand, including assumptions on the aggregation of worms within hosts and on the impact of density-dependent influences on worm reproduction. Using 2 independently developed models of STH transmission we show how different aspects of STH biology and human behavior impact on STH surveillance and control programs and how accounting for uncertainty can help to develop optimal and sustainable control strategies to meet the World Health Organization (WHO) morbidity target for STHs.