PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2012; 2012 Apr 24.
A research agenda for helminth diseases of humans: the problem of helminthiases.
Lustigman S, et al.
A disproportionate burden of helminthiases in human populations occurs in marginalised, low-income, and resource-constrained regions of the world, with over 1 billion people in developing areas of sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and the Americas infected with one or more helminth species. The morbidity caused by such infections imposes a substantial burden of disease, contributing to a vicious circle of infection, poverty, decreased productivity, and inadequate socioeconomic development. Furthermore, helminth infection accentuates the morbidity of malaria and HIV/AIDS, and impairs vaccine efficacy.
Polyparasitism is the norm in these populations, and infections tend to be persistent. Hence, there is a great need to reduce morbidity caused by helminth infections. However, major deficiencies exist in diagnostics and interventions, including vector control, drugs, and vaccines. Overcoming these deficiencies is hampered by major gaps in knowledge of helminth biology and transmission dynamics, platforms from which to help develop such tools. The Disease Reference Group on Helminths Infections (DRG4), established in 2009 by the Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases (TDR), was given the mandate to review helminthiases research and identify research priorities and gaps.
In this review, we provide an overview of the forces driving the persistence of helminthiases as a public health problem despite the many control initiatives that have been put in place; identify the main obstacles that impede progress towards their control and elimination; and discuss recent advances, opportunities, and challenges for the understanding of the biology, epidemiology, and control of these infections. The helminth infections that will be discussed include: onchocerciasis, lymphatic filariasis, soil-transmitted helminthiases, schistosomiasis, food-borne trematodiases, and taeniasis/cysticercosis.