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OBJECTIVE:Preventive chemotherapy is the WHO-recommended control method for soil-transmitted helminthiases. In the Bolivian Chaco, 6-monthly single-dose mebendazole delivery to school-age children achieved a dramatic decrease in soil-transmitted helminthiases prevalence between 1987 and 2013. Consequently, in September 2016, preventive chemotherapy delivery was interrupted in nine rural communities. In compliance with WHO recommendations, we intensified surveillance to monitor soil-transmitted helminthiases prevalence and detect potential changes that would require interventions. METHODS:We conducted two cross-sectional parasitology surveys 12 months apart (September 2016-2017) among school-age children living in the communities where preventive chemotherapy delivery had been halted. Study design, methods of sampling and sample analysis technique (direct microscopy, Kato-Katz technique) followed WHO recommendations, aiming to obtain data representative of the Bolivian Chaco ecological zone. RESULTS:We collected 426 samples in 2016 and 520 in 2017. Soil-transmitted helminthiasis prevalence was unremarkable: 0.7% (95% CI 0-1.5%) in 2016 and 0.8% (0-1.5%) in 2017. Conversely, the prevalence of tapeworms (13% in 2016, 12% in 2017) and intestinal protozoan infections (81% in 2016 and 75% in 2017) continued to be high. CONCLUSIONS:Our findings support the role of preventive chemotherapy in reducing soil-transmitted helminthiases transmission, as otherwise poor hygienic and health conditions persist in the Bolivian Chaco. A national survey, involving areas from all the ecological zones of Bolivia, is now warranted.

Original publication




Journal article


Tropical medicine & international health : TM & IH

Publication Date





616 - 621


Dipartimento di Medicina Sperimentale e Clinica, Università degli Studi di Firenze, Florence, Italy.


Humans, Helminthiasis, Mebendazole, Soil, Anthelmintics, Chemoprevention, Prevalence, Cross-Sectional Studies, Program Evaluation, Child, Rural Population, Bolivia, Female, Male