Children play in the dirt.

Mississippi Parasite Project

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Soil Transmitted Helminths (STH)

What are Soil Transmitted Helminths?

Helminths are parasitic intestinal worms that can be transmitted to humans from contaminated soil. They can cause infection that can result in tiredness, low blood counts, and even trouble with growth!

A child show his bare feet covered in dirt.

Examples of STHs include:

Other Helminth:

Prevention:

  • Wash your hands after playing outside or playing with animals.
  • Make sure your animals are dewormed and healthy.
  • See your health care provider if your child has symptoms of tiredness.
  • Wear shoes when outdoors.
  • Wash, peel, or cook all raw vegetables and fruits before eating.
  • Ensure your sewage disposal system is connected, operating properly, and well maintained.
  • Teach children the importance of washing hands to prevent infection. Learn about handwashing. (external site)

Research Opportunity

Treatable parasitic diseases may still be prevalent in the American South but nobody has looked in a long time.

Researchers from UMMC are conducting a study to see if parasitic infections are a health problem for children ages 2-18 living in select counties of Mississippi:

A child's dirty hands are shown in a bowl that's sitting atop grass.
  • Lincoln
  • Lawrence
  • Franklin
  • Pike
  • Copiah
  • Simpson
  • Wilkinson
  • Jefferson Davis
  • Marion
  • Alcorn
  • Tishomingo
  • Prentiss
  • Itawamba
  • Union

Please contact us to see if your child qualifies for participation and a free STH screening. Participants will be compensated for their time. 

University of Mississippi Medical Center: FW400003630
Protocol: 2016-0111
Approved: 02/20/2022
Expires: 02/19/2023

Research Leaders

Charlotte Hobbs, MD
Principal Investigator and Professor of Pediatrics

Lisa A. Haynie, PhD, RN, FNP-BC
Co-Investigator

For more details and to enroll, please call (601) 815-8419 or send email to MSParasiteProject@umc.edu

Learn more

View the video below for more details about soil transmitted helminths and this research project.

References cited in the video:

How Four Once Common Diseases Were Eliminated From The American South: https://www.healthaffairs.org/doi/full/10.1377/hlthaff.28.6.1734

USAID – Neglected Tropical Diseases Program - STH: https://www.neglecteddiseases.gov/usaid-targeted-diseases/soil-transmitted-helminths/

Mississippi History Now – The Importance of Wearing Shoes: Hookworm Disease in Mississippi: https://www.mshistorynow.mdah.ms.gov/issue/hookworm-disease-in-mississippi%3A-the-importance-of-wearing-shoes

World Health Organization – Fact Sheet - STH: Source: https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/soil-transmitted-helminth-infections

DPDx – Laboratory Identification of Parasites of Public Health Concern – Hookworm (Intestinal): https://www.cdc.gov/dpdx/hookworm/index.html

Rockefeller Archive Center – Public Health: How the Fight Against Hookworm Helped Build a System: https://rockfound.rockarch.org/rockefeller-sanitary-commission