Diseases of Soil Contact

The soil can be a source of infection for several diseases particularly those caused by nematodes and the bacterial infection, tetanus. Transmission can either be direct from contamination with the soil as with tetanus bacilli, by swallowing nematode eggs, or the larvae can penetrate the skin when it comes into contact with the soil. Developmental stages often take place in the soil, which becomes a necessary environment for the life cycle. The promotion of personal hygiene and preventing contamination of soil through sanitation are the main methods of control for the nematode infections and vaccination for tetanus.

Since there is a common mode of transmission for the three main nematode infections (Trichuris, Ascaris and the hookworms), they nearly always go together. As a result, if the person is infected with one nematode, he or she is likely to have all three infections. It is this combined effect that causes considerable morbidity in children in developing countries and if one looks again at Table 1.1, it will be noticed that having all three infections bring their importance in terms of DALYs to the 12th position.

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