Due to the surprising results of research carried out on children in Zanzibar, the World Health Organization is considering lowering the age at which it treats children for ringworm parasites.
Infection of young children by ringworm parasites is fairly common in Africa, but WHO’s policy has been that it only treats children older than 24 months for the condition. This is because it was widely believed that ringworm infection among infants was milder than in older children and, hence, the benefit to be gained was minor.
But preliminary results from the Zanzibar study suggest that treating infants for ringworm parasites can make a significant impact on both malnutrition and anemia.
Researchers previously thought that the problem of anemia among children was due to a lack of iron in the diet, but the Zanzibar study suggests that in infants, the ringworm parasite plays a much larger role in causing anemia than previously thought.
WHO’s coordinator on parasitic diseases, Dr. Lorenzo Savioli, told the BBC that WHO is already preparing to change its recommendations on ringworm treatment which could result in millions of infants across Africa receiving medication to treat the parasite.
WHO has already investigated drugs that are used to treat ringworm to ensure they are not toxic to infants.
Child worm crackdown considered. The BBc, May 5, 2002.
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