The Epidemiology of Hookworm Infection among School Children in Rural Communities in Kintampo North Municipality

Faculty advisor (name): 
Michael Cappello

I had the unique and fascinating opportunity to investigate the epidemiology of hookworm infection among rural school children in Ghana.The study was composed of two parts – a laboratory portion and a field portion – that together sought to further investigate rates in tightly-defined locales known to have high baseline prevalence, while also exploring the existence and cause of treatment failure. The lab component was responsible for identifying which children were infected and the intensity of their infection. The field component was responsible for gathering a large variety of socioeconomic, sanitary, medical history, and especially nutrition data through a two-part survey, with the goal of shedding light on the variation in prevalence and, more significantly, to perhaps reveal the impact of critical host factors with respect to treatment failure.

With much of the data still remaining to be analyzed, it is too early to draw any conclusions. However, it is possible to examine some preliminary statistics about prevalence and treatment failure rates. Throughout the five schools and 142 children enrolled, the overall hookworm prevalence was 57%. While distressingly high, this rate was not especially shocking, given the living conditions in the villages. However, the raw statistics from the treatment failure analysis are both stunning and horrifying. Overall, there was a treatment failure rate of 61%. This statistic becomes even more fascinating when broken down by school, with one school demonstrating an 18% treatment failure rate and another demonstrating a 100% rate. This experience has solidified my desire to devote myself to research focusing on mitigating the terrible costs of infectious diseases – especially the neglected tropical diseases. The ten weeks I spent in Ghana have truly opened my eyes to a world that I had only experienced in textbooks, and I am determined to pursue my research both at Yale and abroad.