Abstract

Baseline data from an epidemiological study of hookworm infection in a rural community in Zimbabwe are presented. The infection status of an age-stratified sample of the community was assessed using anthelmintic expulsion techniques. Necator americanus was the only helminth parasite found to be present. The age-prevalence and intensity profiles rose asymptotically to an adult prevalence of about 80% and adult mean burden of 7·7 worms per host. The overall mean burden was 4·8 worms per host. The frequency distribution of N. americanus was overdispersed and well described by the negative binomial distribution with a value for the aggregation parameter, k, of 0·346. Separate estimates of k were lower in males and older hosts. The distribution patterns were difficult to reconcile with any simple process of age-dependent acquisition of an effective immune response. A significant negative correlation was recorded between per caput fecundity and worm burden, providing evidence for a density-dependent regulation of female worm fecundity. The basic reproductive rate (R0 − 2) was found to be similar to estimates from other geographical areas.

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