Predisposition to hookworm infection in humans

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Science  28 Jun 1985:
Vol. 228, Issue 4707, pp. 1537-1540
DOI: 10.1126/science.4012307


Frequency distributions of parasitic helminths within human communities are invariably highly aggregated, the majority of worms occurring in relatively small fractions of the host populations. It has been suggested that the heavily infected individuals are predisposed to this state, not by chance, but by as yet undefined genetic, ecological, behavioral, or social factors. Analyses of individual post-treatment patterns of hookworm reinfection among 112 villagers in an endemic area of West Bengal provide quantitative evidence of predisposition to heavy infection. This observation has implications for the design of control programs based on chemotherapy because of the potential economic advantage of selective or targeted treatment as opposed to mass or blanket treatment.