Soil-Transmitted Helminths: Mathematical Models of Transmission, the Impact of Mass Drug Administration and Transmission Elimination Criteria
Infections caused by soil-transmitted helminthias (STHs) affect over a billion people worldwide, causing anaemia and having a large social and economic impact through poor educational outcomes. They are identified in the World Health Organization (WHO) 2020 goals for neglected tropical diseases as a target for renewed effort to ameliorate their global public health burden through mass drug administration (MDA) and water and hygiene improvement. In this chapter, we review the underlying biology and epidemiology of the three causative intestinal nematode species that are mostly considered under the STH umbrella term. We review efforts to model the transmission cycle of these helminths in populations and the effects of preventative chemotherapy on their control and elimination. Recent modelling shows that the different epidemiological characteristics of the parasitic nematode species that make up the STH group can lead to quite distinct responses to any given form of MDA. When connected with models of treatment cost-effectiveness, these models are potentially a powerful tool for informing public policy. A number of shortcomings are identified; lack of critical types of data and poor understanding of diagnostic sensitivities hamper efforts to test and hence improve models.