CDC – Parasitic Infections can occur in children of all ages:
- Infants, toddlers, and very young children in day care settings are at risk for the parasitic disease called giardiasis that causes diarrhea and is spread through contaminated feces.
- Pinworm infection (enterobiasis) also occurs among preschool and young school-age children.
- Children of all ages can develop parasitic diseases such as giardiasis and cryptosporidiosis from swallowing contaminated water.
- Children in malaria-endemic countries are at high risk of the ill effects of malaria infection. The majority of the world’s malaria deaths are in African children under 5 years of age.
- Soil-transmitted helminth (STH) diseases (“helminth” means parasitic worm) are of major importance in developing countries. They are caused by infection with roundworm, hookworm or whipworm.
Soil-transmitted helminth infection is found mainly in areas with warm and moist climates where sanitation and hygiene are poor. These STHs are considered Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) because they inflict tremendous disability and suffering yet can be controlled or eliminated. Global NTD Programs.
NTDs include several parasitic, viral, and bacterial diseases that cause substantial illness for more than one billion people globally. Affecting the world’s poorest people, NTDs impair physical and cognitive development, contribute to mother and child illness and death, make it difficult to farm or earn a living, and limit productivity in the workplace. As a result, NTDs trap the poor in a cycle of poverty and disease.
NTD NGO Network is a global forum for non-governmental organizations working together to control treatable and preventable diseases that continue to affect over one billion of the world’s most impoverished, marginalized people living in remote communities as outlined within the internationally agreed WHO NTD Roadmap. Download the PDF.
Prevention: One of the most important ways to help prevent these parasitic diseases is to teach children the importance of washing hands correctly with soap and running warm water, particularly after using the toilet and before eating. In many developing countries, it is also important to ensure feces are disposed of properly, to avoid walking barefoot outdoors, to sleep under an insecticide-treated bednet, and to avoid exposure to water that may be infected with the parasite that causes schistosomiasis.
In an effort to address these debilitating parasitic diseases, the CDC launched project WASH (Water, Sanitation, & Hygiene). Improved WASH is a critical element in preventing disease in the world’s poorest countries. This involves improving access to safe water, managing human excreta, improving hygiene, and enhancing targeted environmental management. Such improvements can lead to improved health, poverty reduction, and socio-economic development.
The most recognized WASH disease is diarrheal illness, which causes more than 1.5 million deaths worldwide every year, mostly among children younger than five years of age.
One organization that comes highly recommended by The Life You Can Save is the SCI Foundation: works in partnership with Governments in Sub-Saharan Africa to develop sustainable programs against parasitic worm infections. Since our foundation in 2002, we’ve contributed to the delivery of over 200 million treatments against these diseases. The programs are highly effective; parasitic worm infections can be reduced by up to 60% after just one round of treatment. Donate.