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Ascaris and hookworm transmission in preschool children in rural Panama: role of subsistence agricultural activities



This longitudinal study explored whether aspects of subsistence agriculture were associated with presence and intensity of Ascaris and hookworm in preschool children in rural Panama. Questionnaires were used to collect data on household socio-demographics, child exposure to agriculture and household agricultural practices. Stool samples were collected from children (6 months–5 years) at 3 time points, with albendazole administered after each to clear infections, resulting in 1 baseline and 2 reinfection measures. A novel Agricultural Activity Index (AAI) was developed using principal components analysis to measure the intensity of household agricultural practices. Zero-inflated negative binomial regression models revealed baseline hookworm egg counts were higher if children went to the agricultural plot and if the plot was smaller. Baseline and reinfection Ascaris egg counts were higher if children went to the plot and households had higher AAI, and higher at baseline if the plot was smaller. Caregiver time in the plot was negatively associated with baseline Ascaris egg counts, but positively associated with baseline hookworm and Ascaris reinfection egg counts. Children who spent more time playing around the home were less likely to be infected with Ascaris at baseline. We conclude that preschool child exposure to subsistence agriculture increased Ascaris and hookworm intensity.


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*Corresponding author: Department of Biology, Canadian Mennonite University, 500 Shaftesbury Blvd., Winnipeg, Manitoba R3P 2N2, Canada. E-mail:


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