Complex interactions in soil-transmitted helminth co-infections from a cross-sectional study in Sri Lanka.
Lepper HC., Prada JM., Davis EL., Gunawardena SA., Hollingsworth TD.
Co-infection with multiple soil-transmitted helminth (STH) species is common in communities with a high STH prevalence. The life histories of STH species share important characteristics, particularly in the gut, and there is the potential for interaction, but evidence on whether interactions may be facilitating or antagonistic are limited.Data from a pretreatment cross-sectional survey of STH egg deposition in a tea plantation community in Sri Lanka were analysed to evaluate patterns of co-infection and changes in egg deposition.There were positive associations between Trichuris trichiura (whipworm) and both Necator americanus (hookworm) and Ascaris lumbricoides (roundworm), but N. americanus and Ascaris were not associated. N. americanus and Ascaris infections had lower egg depositions when they were in single infections than when they were co-infecting. There was no clear evidence of a similar effect of co-infection in Trichuris egg deposition.Associations in prevalence and egg deposition in STH species may vary, possibly indicating that effects of co-infection are species dependent. We suggest that between-species interactions that differ by species could explain these results, but further research in different populations is needed to support this theory.