Abstract

Improved water quality reduces diarrhea, but the impact of improved water quality on Ascaris and Trichuris, soil-transmitted helminths (STH) conveyed by the fecal-oral route, is less well described. To assess water quality associations with diarrhea and STH, we conducted a cross-sectional survey in households of south-eastern Guatemala. Diarrhea was self-reported in the past week and month. STH was diagnosed by stool testing using a fecal parasite concentrator method. We explored associations between Escherichia coli-positive source water (water quality) and disease outcomes using survey logistic regression models. Overall, 732 persons lived in 167 households where water was tested. Of these, 79.4% (581/732) had E. coli-positive water, 7.9% (58/732) had diarrhea within the week, 14.1% (103/732) had diarrhea within the month, and 6.6% (36/545) tested positive for Ascaris or Trichuris, including 1% (6/536) who also reported diarrhea. Univariable analysis found a statistically significant association between water quality and STH (odds ratio [OR] = 5.1, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.1–24.5) but no association between water quality and diarrhea. Waterborne transmission and effects of water treatment on STH prevalence should be investigated further. If a causal relationship is found, practices such as household water treatment including filtration might be useful adjuncts to sanitation, hygiene, and deworming in STH control programs.

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