Water, sanitation and hygiene related risk factors for soil-transmitted helminth and Giardia duodenalis infections in rural communities in Timor-Leste

Suzy J. Campbell*, Susana V. Nery, Catherine A. D'Este, Darren J. Gray, James S. McCarthy, Rebecca J. Traub, Ross M. Andrews, Stacey Llewellyn, Andrew J. Vallely, Gail M. Williams, Salvador Amaral, Archie C.A. Clements

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


There is little evidence on prevalence or risk factors for soil transmitted helminth infections in Timor-Leste. This study describes the epidemiology, water, sanitation and hygiene, and socioeconomic risk factors of STH and intestinal protozoa amongst communities in Manufahi District, Timor-Leste. As part of a cluster randomised controlled trial, a baseline cross-sectional survey was conducted across 18 villages, with data from six additional villages. Stool samples were assessed for soil transmitted helminth and protozoal infections using quantitative PCR (qPCR) and questionnaires administered to collect water, sanitation and hygiene and socioeconomic data. Risk factors for infection were assessed using multivariable mixed-effects logistic regression, stratified by age group (preschool, school-aged and adult). Overall, soil transmitted helminth prevalence was 69% (95% Confidence Interval 67–71%), with Necator americanus being most common (60%; 95% Confidence Interval 58–62%) followed by Ascaris spp. (24%; 95% Confidence Interval 23–26%). Ascaris-N. americanus co-infection was common (17%; 95% Confidence Interval 15%-18%). Giardia duodenalis was the main protozoan identified (13%; 95% Confidence Interval 11–14%). Baseline water, sanitation and hygiene infrastructure and behaviours were poor. Although risk factors varied by age of participants and parasite species, risk factors for N. americanus infection included, generally, age in years, male sex, and socioeconomic quintile. Risk factors for Ascaris included age in years for children, and piped water to the yard for adults. In this first known assessment of community-based prevalence and associated risk factors in Timor-Leste, soil transmitted helminth infections were highly prevalent, indicating a need for soil transmitted helminth control. Few associations with water, sanitation and hygiene were evident, despite water, sanitation and hygiene being generally poor. In our water, sanitation and hygiene we will investigate implications of improving WASH on soil transmitted helminth infection in impoverished communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)771-779
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal for Parasitology
Issue number12
Early online date20 Oct 2016
Publication statusPublished - 01 Nov 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Australian Society for Parasitology


  • Ascaris lumbricoides
  • Giardia
  • Helminth
  • Hookworm
  • Necator americanus
  • Prevalence
  • Risk factor
  • Soil transmitted

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases


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