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The changing epidemiology of human hookworm infection in Australia

Medical Journal of Australia 162(3): 150-154
The changing epidemiology of human hookworm infection in Australia
Objective: To document the distribution of human hookworm infection in Australia. Design: A retrospective study of published data and accessible archival records. Methods: The core data were derived from the report of the Australian Hookworm Campaign, annual reports of various State health departments and the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, and unpublished files of the former Queensland Aboriginal Health Programme. Findings: Today, hookworm infection is endemic only among Aboriginal communities of northern Western Australia and the Northern Territory, where Ancylostoma duodenale may be the sole species. Early this century, infection was also established in Queensland and northern New South Wales, in both Aboriginal and white communities, and Necator americanus predominated. The origin of these parasites is obscure. Sustained control programs seem to have eradicated hookworms from Queensland. Conclusions: Improved sanitation, hygiene and chemotherapy have eliminated hookworms from white populations of Australia. Continued anthelminthic campaigns will also clear the parasites from Aboriginal communities, but unless living conditions improve significantly infection will recur.

Accession: 002980133

PMID: 7854229

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